Your body flexibility decreases with the increasing age. Stretching is the best way to improve flexibility. You may want to add yoga or Pilates movements in your daily stretches. It is beneficial to improve flexibility, strength, balance, and range of motion.
Flexibility is the ability of a joint, muscles, and ligaments to move comfortably. The ability to move this joint is different in each joint. It depends on the anatomical structure, the presence or absence of injury, muscle tension, and other factors.
Why is it important to have a flexible body?
Flexibility is an important part of maintaining optimal body fitness. “Flexibility is the third pillar of body fitness after cardio training and muscle strength training,” said David Geier. He is the Director of Sports Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina. Also, he is a spokesman for the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine.
When you stretch a muscle, you also extend the tendons, which connect the muscles to bone. The longer the tendon, the easier it is for you to increase muscle size when you do strength training. That is, flexible muscles have the potential to become strong muscles too. Building strong muscle fibers will improve the body’s metabolic and body fitness level.
Repeated habits, such as bending over while working at the computer, can shorten some muscles. This, coupled with a decrease in muscle elasticity due to age, can make it difficult for you to do spontaneous movements. For example, catching a glass that is about to fall can pull your muscles beyond their limits. As a result, you become easily sprained. Having a supple body can help you more adapt to external factors that cause physical stress.
What are the benefits of having good body flexibility?
Having good body flexibility certainly has many benefits. The following are benefits if you have good body flexibility:
1. Improves physical performance
Increasing muscle elasticity allows greater freedom of movement. It improves your ability to participate in various types of sports and recreational activities. Good body flexibility can ease you in carrying out various daily activities. Less flexibility can also lead to slower movement.
2. Less pain
Releasing the tension during joint activities makes you experience fewer aches and pain. Also, you may be less inclined to experience muscle cramps.
3. Improves posture and balance
When you focus on expanding muscular flexibility, your posture is going to improve. Working out your body permits you to have the right alignment and correct any bad posture. Also, with an expanded range of movement you may experience that it is easier to sit or remain in specific poses.
4. Reduces the risk of injury during sports and daily activities
The supple muscles can make it easier for you to go about your daily routine and reduce injury risk. It reduces the possibility of injury or pain in certain body areas such as the back.
5. Relaxed the mind
Stretching and opening up your body can bring a relaxed feeling.
6. Greater strength
You can increase your muscle strength as you become more flexible. This guarantees your muscle will have the amount of tension to support your movements.
Flexibility exercise and arthritis
Exercise helps reduce pain in people with arthritis. Flexibility exercises help your Rheumatoid Arthritis. You can do gentle moves to ease pain, avoid injuries, and improve your balance. They help your joints work well.
You can train your body flexibility from the age of children to adulthood. Canada’s Physical Activity Guide recommends doing flexibility exercises at least 4 times a week. The duration is 5 to 10 minutes. Keep in mind that stretching does not have to cause pain. Focus on the muscles. When the muscles feel a little tense, then stretching is enough.
Factors that influence flexibility are
1. Structure of joints and body tissues
The structure of joints and body tissue referred to in this case is
bone, the muscle that passes through the joint, ligament, joint capsule, and disc. A healthy bone structure eases the movement of joints to reach the most joint motion range.
The area of joint movement is specific and varies depending on the type of joint and the individual. Each joint also has a different degree of freedom.
Increasing age will reduce flexibility. The connective tissue in the muscles will experience shortening. Conditions for bone structure and joints in old age will change and not as good at a young age.
Starting from the age of 30 years you will lose about 1 percent of muscle mass per year. You can increase muscle mass by doing resistance strength training.
Changes to the musculoskeletal system due to physiological aging processes such as
– collagen changes, (read more about foods that build collagen and elastin here)
– calcification of the cartilage and joint capsules, and
– reduction of the functional strength of the muscles
causes the joint to lose its flexibility.
The range of joint motion is reduced. The elderly are usually vulnerable to injury due to activities that involve a lot of joint movement.
In general, women’s body is more flexible than men. This is because of differences in the anatomy of the joint structure.
4. The amount of body fat
Another factor that can affect flexibility is body fat tissue around the joints and muscle tissue. Excess body fat tissue can increase movement resistance. It reduces the joint degree of freedom. Thereby reducing flexibility.
Accumulation of fat in certain body parts such as in the abdomen area will be a barrier to the flexion of the lumbar. Besides, excess body fat will affect the pressure of the lumbar spine when flexing forward. It will decrease the body flexibility.
Lack of exercise can cause connective tissue flexibility to become less good. The muscles and ligaments become very easy to sprain. Someone who routinely does stretching regularly will have better body flexibility. Read more about yoga poses for women over 40 here.
During pregnancy, the hip joint and ligament are in a state of relaxation. The body parts have greater joint space. This happens because during pregnancy the body will produce the hormone relaxin. After pregnancy the production of this hormone will decrease. Then the ligament will be tense again.
7. Body temperature
Warmer muscles are more pliable and stretchable. That’s why warming up before exercise is so important.
8. Psychic state
For someone who is not motivated or who has a mental disorder, it’s hard to get the flexibility that he actually has.
10 types of powerful stretches to improve flexibility
Do some easy but super effective body flexibility exercises below, one or two times a day. Don’t consider stretching a warm-up. Before stretching, warm up with light walking or jogging for 5 -10 minutes. If your goal is to increase flexibility, stretch your muscle after the exercise session while the muscles are still warm and supple.
1. Hip Flexor / Quad Stretch
Stretch the hip muscles, quads, and hamstrings
Kneel on the floor with your knees bent, the shin touching the floor. Swing your right foot forward so that your right knee is now bent 90 degrees in front of you, your right foot is planted on the floor right below your right knee. Your left foot is still bent flat against the floor, parallel to your right foot.
Press your hips forward, stretch while keeping the upper body upright. Hold for 30 seconds, then release. Repeat three times, then switch legs and repeat from the beginning.
2. Bridge with Leg Reach
Stretch the chest muscles, abdomen, hips, glutes, and legs
Lie on your back, bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor, and place your arms beside your body. Lift and extend your right leg in front of you, then slowly lift your hips up. Your body should form a diagonal line from your right knee to your right shoulder. Press your upper back against the floor and push your chest up. Raise your right leg higher, then lower. Do 10 reps, and hold the last repetition for 10 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.
3. Seated Trunk Twist
Stretch the back muscles, abdomen, and oblique
Sit straight on the floor, tighten your abdominal muscles, and extend your legs in front of your body. Rotate the rib cage to the right, keeping the nose parallel to the sternum.
Lift your ribcage away from the hips while rotating it further to the right, so that your upper body position looks higher. Twist your body as far as you can. Return to the middle; Repeat turning to the left side to complete a set. Repeat 10 sets, holding the last lap for 30 seconds for each side
4. Foldover Stretch
Stretch the neck muscles, back, glutes, hamstring, and calves
Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, hands at your sides. Exhale as you bend forward from your hips, keep your head, neck, and shoulders relaxed. Wrap both hands behind your calves and hold for as long as you can from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Bend your knees and slowly straighten again.
If it hurts, bend your knees deeper and/or place your hands on an elevated surface, such as a yoga beam.
5. Butterfly Stretch
Stretch the muscles of the neck, back, glutes, hamstrings, thighs
Sit up straight on the floor with your legs bent inward from your knees, as if crossing your legs. Bring the soles of your feet together (position both knees sticking out of your body). Grasp both feet with your hands, tighten your abdominal muscles. Slowly move your upper body forward toward your feet, as far as you can. Hold for 45 seconds to 2 minutes, let go if you feel you can’t.
If you feel any discomfort, prop your buttocks with a few piles of blankets, then repeat.
6. Lower Back and glutes
Stretch the muscles of the upper back, lower, and glutes
Lie on your back, bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands behind your thighs and pull your feet in towards your chest. Continue to pull until you can feel a little resistance. Hold for 30 seconds. Return to the starting position
Still lying down, straighten your legs forward. Bend one leg and pull the heel toward the buttocks. Reach your ankles with one hand and knees with the other. Slowly pull your feet toward the opposite shoulder until there is a little resistance. Hold for 30 seconds, return to the starting position. Switch legs and repeat.
7. Swan Stretch
Stretching shoulder, back, chest, abs, oblique, hip flexor muscles
Lie on your stomach with both hands in front of the shoulders. Your fingers should be facing forward, legs straight. While tensing your abdominal muscles, relax your shoulders and hips against the floor. Lift your upper body lengthwise, and away from the floor – reach for the sky from the top of your head. Pull both shoulder blades to open the chest. Hold for 30-45 seconds, release. Repeat five times.
Stretch the lower back muscles, hips, glutes, and hamstrings
Stretch the front and side muscles of the thigh
Stand on your left leg. You can hold a chair to keep you steady if needed.
Grab your right foot, using your right hand, and pull it towards your butt. Be sure to push your chest up and hips forward. Focus on feeling the stretch in your quad muscle and pushing your hips forward to get a good hip flexor stretch.
Hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds, then repeat, switching from your left leg to your right.
10. Standing Thigh Release
Stretch the back muscles, abdomen, hips, glutes, and quads
Stand up straight with your stomach muscles tightened, both hands on the sides of the body. Swing your left leg back and grasp your left foot with your left hand. Position your heel toward the buttocks.
Raise your right hand straight above your head (or place it on a chair) to maintain body balance. Press your left leg with your hand to increase the tension along with the quadriceps. Hold the position for 1 minute, release, then change legs and repeat.
Other than making it easier for you to do daily routine, flexibility exercise also increases blood circulation. Good blood circulation help protect you from kidney disease, diabetes, and various diseases. More optimal body flexibility is even linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular problems. This is because your arterial muscle walls become less stiff. The less stiff your arterial muscle, the fewer chance of stroke and heart attack.
Don’t forget to do it regularly. Even if you feel achy after doing the stretch above, keep doing it! That’s a sign that your muscles start reacting. Over time your aches will disappear and eventually, the supple body will be yours! Good luck!