“True flexibility can only be achieved when all muscles are uniformly developed.” Joseph Pilates
Flexibility refers to the range of movement in a joint or series of joints, and length in muscles that cross the joints to create movement.
The degree of flexibility varies between individuals, particularly in terms of differences in muscle length of multi-joint muscles.
Flexibility can be impacted by a number of factors such as:
The type of joint (some joints simply aren’t meant to be flexible)
The internal resistance within a joint
Bony structures which limit movement
The elasticity of muscle tissue (muscle tissue that is scarred due to a previous injury is not very elastic)
The elasticity of tendons and ligaments (ligaments do not stretch much and tendons should not stretch at all)
The ability of a muscle to relax and contract to achieve the greatest range of movement
Gender (females tend to be more flexible than men)
As we age we tend to lose flexibility the main contributing factors are:
An increased amount of calcium deposits, adhesions, and cross-links in the body
An increase in the level of fragmentation and dehydration
Changes in the chemical structure of the tissues.
Loss of suppleness due to the replacement of muscle fibers with fatty, collagenous fibers
Due to these changes, it is important to continue to work on flexibility gradually, as loss of flexibility or movement through joints can result in pain and balance disorders.
Stretching after working out muscles strongly is also important. Why? After working muscles strongly we cause them to tighten and contract. When a muscle is in a contracted state it is able to develop less force through the contractile tissues. This means we have less strength available and leaving us more susceptible to injury.
Regular stretching also helps to keep our bodies in optimal alignment and free from aches and pains.
So how do we ensure that we keep our bodies flexible?
Gentle stretching consistently is the best way of improving overall flexibility and range of movement in the body.
Regular exercise can also help as it assists in keeping your body mobile preventing you from stiffening up.
Staying hydrated is also important to support with flexibility.
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