Flexibility is an important element in any fitness program, but unfortunately it is frequently overlooked. It is either given very little time, or completely ignored.
Good flexibility has so many positive benefits including; injury prevention, reducing muscle soreness, maintaining muscle elasticity, providing fluidity of movement, reducing cramps, preventing some lower back problems, improved body alignment and posture, and improved maintenance of blood glucose.
We can often spend long periods of time in one position, for example sitting. This lack of movement can lead muscles and ligaments to shorten and become tight. This causes poor posture, and reduces your range of movement. Less movement = fewer calories burnt, which can lead to weight gain. A greater range of motion leads to more efficient movement which positively impacts both everyday life and your workouts.
Something else that many people suffer from which can be improved through stretching is cramps, particularly leg cramps at night time. There are a variety of causes; dehydration, insufficient potassium, calcium, or other minerals, flat feet, sitting for too long during the day, certain types of medication and even diabetes. Regardless of the cause, stretching can provide relief both immediately and long term. There has been some fascinating research which has shown that people who suffer from type 2 diabetes, or who are at risk, can help to control blood glucose levels by doing 30 to 40 minutes of stretching daily.
There are 4 main types of stretch; Static, ballistic PNF and dynamic. For the average person looking to benefit from stretching, the focus really only needs to be on static stretches. Which basically means you should hold each position for around 20 to 30 seconds.
But beware, over stretching can put too much strain on muscles, so be careful. Like any form of exercise, it is often best to seek advice form a professional. During lock down, I have been running free Facebook live stretch classes. The next one will run on Friday 3rd April at 11am. To take part, follow this link to my Facebook page.
As a certified personal trainer, I have the qualifications to work with clients, but its my training as a ballerina that really influences my love of stretching. Combining the two means I am ideally placed to help you enjoy the benefits of stretching.