The Importance of Flexibility Training

At some point in our lives, we have all been told that it’s important to stretch and warm up before exercise. But in general, most of us are totally clueless with regards to how we should be incorporating stretching and flexibility training into our daily lives. What’s more confusing is that we are often given conflicting advice on what to do and when to improve our flexibility. We asked Jessica Power-Cyr, Fitness Director at Heavens Elevated Fitness, to give us the need-to-know:

Notable: When we were researching this topic, there were so much conflicting information about stretching and flexibility.
Flexibility training is one of the most poorly understood and overlooked components of physical activity and sadly is severely undervalued. Achieving and maintaining flexibility are important factors in achieving your optimal physical ability. Stretching should be a priority in every way possible.

Notable: Why should young professionals be concerned about their flexibility?
Flexibility is extremely important in maintaining our natural range of motion at a joint and valuable in helping us achieve our optimal physical potential. If we are unable to maintain our natural range of motion (functional flexibility) at our joints, this will ultimately affect the balance of our muscles in the body and create an imbalance. When we create a muscle imbalance in our body our dominant muscles take over and the weak muscles get weaker, potentially putting you at risk for repetitive stress injuries or enhancing the potential for osteoporosis. Take a look at an older adult who is crouched over due to poor posture. This posture didn’t just happen. It took decades to create this muscle imbalance and lose the natural range of motion at a joint. These individuals live in a state of constant nagging pain and eventually stop moving altogether, which can lead to living in a state of isolation. 

Notable: So what do we need to do to improve our flexibility? Are there any rules of thumb regarding how often or how long you should be working on your flexibility?
There are many schools of thought but the American College of Sport Medicine, who are the gold standard in the fitness industry, suggest training 5-7 days a week, holding each stretch for 15-30 seconds and repeating each stretch 1-3 times each. 

Notable: For somebody who doesn’t have a lot of extra time to fit in a workout, what are your top flexibility exercises?
As we age, our chest, hip flexors, hamstrings, and calves naturally want to get tighter. Always think stretch what is tight and strengthen what is weak.

chest

Chest Stretch

hip

Hip Flexor Stretch

hamstring

Hamstring Stretch

calf

Calf Stretch