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Five benefits of increasing Flexibility
By: Ian Webb

Stretching is a bit like religion. Some of us are fervent believers, starting or ending each day with our favorite stretching regimens. Some athletes give it lip service, performing perfunctory toe touches and a few stretches of the hamstrings or quadriceps after a run or bike ride. Others abstain from stretching completely, thinking it a pointless and time-consuming inconvenience. The reality is that paying attention to flexibility will provide you with daily rewards you can feel. Assuming that you are a committed athlete, flexibility takes on a deeper significance should you be planning on using your body well beyond the average expiration date.

Although flexibility is somewhat dependent on genetics, gender, and age, there is a lot we can do to improve what nature has bestowed upon us. A little bit of time dedicated to improving soft tissue mobility will result in worthwhile benefits out on the track.

Major benefits of stretching:
1) Greater range of motion ROM means less joint pain and stiffness.
2) Improved posture will make you look and feel better.
3) Reduced risk of injury is all about longevity.
4) More power, need we say more.
5) Enhanced recovery from training.

What seems to be missing from the arsenals of athletes whether young, old, experienced, or beginner, is a balance between the left and right sides of the body. This type of imbalance, one side being less flexible than the other, translates to a loss of efficiency during training and racing. Fortunately, these imbalances can be corrected through daily stretching. The trick is to get into the groove of stretching regularly and make it part of your daily regime. This might mean wearing loose clothing so that you can hit the floor and engage the muscles whenever even a small block of time is available.

Instead of viewing a flexibility routine as something you must do each day, view it as something to look forward to. The best way to make a stretching regimen stick is to hit the floor immediately upon waking each morning and take yourself through a brief, ancillary core routine. This gets the blood flowing and lubricates joints before you start to stretch the major muscle groups. Once you see the positive effects of flexibility in your workout results, you will find yourself wanting to increase the duration and frequency of your core and flexibility workouts. Think of these sessions as money in the bank for your performance. By adopting this premise, your training will improve with even a basic stretching program. Remember, the key element is blending stretching into your lifestyle.

Added: 23-04-2013