Many factors play a role in our overall bone health- from what we eat to how we exercise. If you’re making your orthopedic health a priority through through a well-rounded diet, your fitness routine should be well-rounded, too.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons emphasizes the importance of incorporating several components to a proper fitness program: cardiovascular training (also known as aerobic exercise), strength training and flexibility exercises. Unfortunately, many of us tend to place more focus on the first two components.
Our team explains below why flexibility exercises should not fall by the wayside.
Why are Flexibility Exercises Important?
Flexibility exercises benefit bone health in many ways. By improving your flexibility, you increase your range of motion, which allows you to move with more agility. Flexibility also helps protect your joints and prevent injury, whether you’re playing sports or performing daily tasks.
Good for Aging Joints
Age affects how our bones move as well– joints can lose up to 50 percent of their motion as we grow older. Regularly stretching or practicing yoga and pilates can help keep joint, muscles and tissues flexible and prevent injury.
Essential for Athletes
By incorporating flexibility exercises into their daily routines, athletes can expect their bodies to perform better and be less susceptible to injuries like tears, strains and sprains.
“Athletes should always warm up with light aerobic exercise such as jogging, jumping rope or stationary bike followed by slow, gentle stretching. It is also beneficial to having a stretching routine to perform when you are finished with your athletic activity as this will improve your flexibility while your muscles are more easily stretched,” says Rebound Physical Therapist Mike Baer.
If you enjoy sports such as soccer, basketball, volleyball and other sports that involve cutting and jumping, improving flexibility makes your muscles much more equipped to handle the stress. Supplementing with yoga (when practiced correctly) can help athletes build better balance while focusing on specific muscle groups.
Achey Bones & Back
Millions suffer from joint pain and back pain each year. While movement when in pain may not sound appealing, it may actually help. Flexibility exercises can release tension and stiffness, providing relief. According to a 2011 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, practicing regular stretching was beneficial for those living with chronic back pain.
Stretching daily can help reduce tension and discomfort, increase the range of motion in your joints, improve posture, increase healthy blood flow to the muscles, and reduce the risk of injury.
Safety Tips for Flexibility
Stretches should always be done mindfully. To ensure you do not cause an injury, stretch slowly and gently, holding each stretch for anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds. When stretching, you should not feel pain- if you do, take caution to not overdo the stretch, reset your position, and breathe as you ease into the stretch. Be careful to never bounce while stretching, as it can cause injury.
If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of flexibility training, our team of athletic trainers and physical therapists are here to help.