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Flexible? Either ways

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Flexible?How flexible are you? How much can you stretch? These questions may ring a bell to those corporate bees and probably remind them of the interviews they have attended for the top-notch positions. Well, if these are the questions you could only associate with work? then this one is for all the workaholics. These questions relate to working out also or rather originate from it.

Obviously, the one who is very fit just goes about doing his daily chores with ease, at the end of the day hits the bed with no ooohhhs and aaahhhs.

It means if you exercise, then you are fit, if you are fit then you are flexible both mentally and physically. There is a direct relationship between the mind and the body and a sound body will reflect a sound mind.

So let us try that physical flexibility first and you know the rest will follow. The flexibility of the body is determined by stretching. What is flexibility?

It is nothing but the freedom of movement. Flexibility is joint specific. As a child each one of us would have been flexible. But as we grow, the body gets stiffer and more rigid. Sedentary lifestyle and genetics are some of the reasons for these. Being flexible also means to perform a movement in its full range of motion.

For example, the knees joint is a hinge joint. One should be able to flex the joint completely till the heel can touch the butt. But imagine how many of us can actually can sit down in a cross-legged position for a long time?

Stretching is one of the main components of fitness training. The other two being cardio and muscular as we have seen in our earlier editions on the topic. Can anyone explain how good it feels to stretch? We all do that every morning after a good sleep. It is totally involuntary. It is just good to stretch anytime of the day. And two minutes stretch between your work times can be rejuvenating beyond words. Stretching between those hours of non-stop TV watching in your couch who knows after that stretch you may even want to spring up and do some activity.

Ironically, resistance and cardio training will reduce flexibility by working out the muscle and by shortening and contracting it. Here is when stretching comes as the answer and stretching improves flexibility.

Flexibility training can be included as part of the warm up or the cool down sessions or it can also be done as a separate routine. Stretching that forms part of the flexibility training is of different types and it is to be done depending on the workout you are doing, warming up or cooling down etc.

Lets us find out the benefits of stretching.

It helps in relaxing, physically and mentally (yoga and taichi can be incorporated for flexibility).
It of course improves physical fitness.
It removes muscle soreness and tension especially after resistance training.
It increases mobility of the joints.
It enhances body awareness (gym ball or Swiss ball can also be used while stretching).
It reduces the risk of sprains and strains.

The initial warm up with stretches, both for cardio and resistance training can help in working out with a lot of efficiency and evade injuries. It will increase the blood circulation and it will prepare the body for what’s coming up next, it will lubricate the joints to provide extra mobility. And the cool down stretches, can reduce the muscular fatigue caused while working out, reduces soreness, helps in moderating the body temperature; bringing it back to the normal range and most importantly it relaxes.

It is essential that you stretch immediately after exercising when the muscles are still warm and carry on to stretch. While cooling down or a general stretch can be slow and static a warming up stretch can be dynamic and quick.

A muscle should be stretched to the maximum, till the point of a slight bearable pain and held in that position for at least 12 seconds to about 20 seconds for a static stretch and for dynamic stretches the muscles need to be held in the stretched position and can be given movement in the controlled range of motion. An over all stretch routine should not take you more than 5-10 minutes.

You should start stretching the bigger muscles first and slowly come down to the smaller muscles and make sure that you have stretched completely front-back, upper-lower, side-side to complete a balanced stretch routine. And don’t forget those ideas of yours that need to be stretched too. If I have to remind you what it is, then I have been quite successful in my goal.


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