Remember when you were a kid? You could lie on the floor and pop up in seconds. You could bend from the waist and touch the floor. If you were really talented, like my kids, you could lie on your back and get your knees to touch your ears. Flexibility allowed you to do all these marvelous feats. Just because you are older now, it does not mean you should give up on flexibility. We lose flexibility as we age. Most of the loss comes from inactivity,but some comes from the normal process of aging. But just like strength and cardiovascular fitness, your flexibility can improve with regular training. Here’s seven reasons why you should stay flexible.
- Improve your posture Ever see someone walking around with hunched shoulders or stooped over at the hips? Tight muscles can cause you to hold your body this way. Improving your flexibility can help you release those muscles and straighten your spine.
- Avoid injury Tendons, ligaments and muscles have a better range of motion when they are flexible. A better range of motion means less chance of those tendons ligaments and muscles being pushed beyond their limits and being damaged.
- Less back pain A majority of Americans will experience back pain during his/her lifetime. For some, it will be excruciating and debilitating. Tight hamstrings pull the pelvis forward which puts more pressure on the lower back. My first job out of college was a YMCA program director. I taught a class called, “Y’s way to a healthy back”. Many of my students had been sent to the class as a last ditch effort before surgery. Most of them had very tight hamstrings. With just ten simple flexibility exercises done each day, not one of those students had to go on to have surgery. Most of them found a tremendous amount of pain relief from this class.
- Increased range of motion You will be able to move your body more efficiently through activities of daily living. Things like bending over to pick up a child’s toy on the floor, reaching the top cupboard in your kitchen, stooping to get the the groceries out of the car, lowering yourself into a chair, or climbing the steps for the 25th time in one day will become easier.
- Improved Circulation Being more flexible allows blood to travel more easily to the muscles and joints. With a better blood supply the muscles and joints will work more smoothly which means less aches and pains. I’m for that!
- Less Stress Flexible muscles contain less tension. That means not as many stiff and aching shoulders, necks, hips, knees and backs.
- Improves physical performance A pliable muscle can run through a variety of movements more efficiently. This can improve your performance in many of your favorite sports like golf, tennis, hiking, swimming, skiing and many others.
*Special bonus benefit
Travel more comfortably You will be able to sit comfortably in a variety of positions over time in a confined space. This comes in handy in a crowded plane or when turning around constantly to tell your kids that, no, you are NOT there yet.