Components of Fitness: Flexibility

Have you ever seen that gym rat who is so muscular, but can’t get anywhere near touching his toes?  Have you ever seen the runner who can do 10 miles with ease, but has an upper body that is nothing but skin and bones? In order to be truly physically fit, you have to be fit in all five components of fitness.  In this post, we’ll concentrate on flexibility.  Flexibility is the ability to move a body part through a full range of motion.  If you can do this, you are less likely to get injured.  As you age, flexibility becomes even more important.  It prevents lower back pain and can also prevent or relieve the symptoms of arthritis.

My very first job was the Program Director of a YMCA. At one point, I taught a class called, “The Y’s Way to a Healthy Back”  People were sent to this class by their doctors as a last resort before back surgery. Students were tested for hamstring flexibility with a toe touch and for abdominal strength with a modified curl up (easier than a  regular one).  No one could come anywhere close to touching their toes on the flexibility test and most could not even do one curl-up.  The class consisted of a progressive set of stretching exercises and abdominal strengthening moves.  It lasted for six weeks.  At the end of those six weeks, not one of those students needed to go through with back surgery.

Sometimes people avoid flexibility training because it doesn’t seem like “real” exercise. If they are pressed for time, the flexibility training is what they skip.  My hubby is one of those people who is guilty of this and it drives me crazy.  Tomorrow he is going to see his doctor for yet another shoulder injury. (pulling my hair out)

Do yourself a favor and concentrate on flexibility at least once a week during your workouts.  Also make sure you are stretching after each workout during the week. Tomorrow you’ll get a rundown of some of my favorite flexibility exercises.  What are your favorites?