Reduced flexibility – what causes it and how you can change it!
September 29, 2021
Flexibility is the ability to move your joints through range without restriction or pain. Often we think flexibility is all about muscle tightness, but did you know that your ligaments, tendons and even nerves can be a reason for reduced flexibility?! And while we can’t control the structure of stiff or rigid bones and joints (without surgery) we can improve the mobility of your muscles, nerves and tendons!
Flexibility can be affected by genetics, injury, lack of use or lack of stretching. We are not all built the same, some of us are naturally more lax and for these people stretching can be actually be detrimental. However, if you consider yourself tighter than the average person, its likely you would benefit from regular stretching. This may involve stretching your muscles and/or your nerves.
Neural tightness is commonly forgotten but can be a contributor to joint stiffness.
The best time to exercise, and the best variety of stretch also depends on your time of stretch. Dynamic stretching is stretching while moving – think things like leg swings, rolling like a ball or swinging your arms or chest. Dynamic stretching is a wonderful component of any warm up. It increases blood flow, starts to switch on the nerves that fire up the muscles we use for exercise and can even improve mental alertness.
Static stretching, or holding one position for 30-45 seconds is recommended to complete either after exercise as a part of the “cool down” process, or at times when not exercising. This increases muscle and tendon length whilst not being overloaded and pre-stretched prior to exercise. If you are aiming to improve general flexibility, it is best to complete stretching regularly, every day. With that, you are likely to see fast, steady improvement in your flexibility! And remember, don’t push too hard. A gentle level of discomfort is all you need to achieve good change in muscle length!
Hamstring pain – is it a tear, or something else. How to tell.