Almost everybody can benefit from stretching. Whether you work in an office all day or you're a professional athlete, regular stretching can make your life easier. Interestingly, people typically tend to prefer doing stuff they're good at. If you're fairly flexible, you probably don't mind stretching, but if you're not flexible, the thought alone can be enough to discourage you from stretching regularly.
The most common mistake people make when it comes to flexibility is stretching muscles that actually don't need to be stretched and not stretching the ones that do ! Remember, we're all unique, and the tight muscles one person has can be completely different to the tight muscles someone else has.
What is optimal flexibility ?
Well, it depends. We're all different. Generally, we don't all need to have the flexibility of a Russian gymnast. We do, however, need a certain amount of flexibility, which most people lack. Stretching is all about BALANCE ! There's that word again. If you're postural alignment is not ideal there's a good chance you'll have some short tight muscles. Equally so there'll be some long loose ones too.
If you're naturally tight and want to participate in a sport or activity which requires more flexibility than you currently have, stretching will most importantly help you to avoid injury. Most of us nowadays spend the majority of their day sitting - at work, in the office, in the car, at the dinner table or watching telly. Sitting for lengthy periods of time, day in and day out, without adequate stretching and movement will lead to decreased flexibility and numerous muscle imbalances. It doesn't take long before you struggle to bend to put your socks on in the morning !
In terms of sporting performance, ideal flexibility allows you to perform the required movements without restriction. So say you play tennis which is a multi-movement pattern sport which heavily involves lunges, squats, bending, pushing, pulling, twisting and running. You'll need to make sure that you do stretches that are appropriate to allow free movement within all of those movement patterns in order to avoid injury but also to allow precise execution of each movement to provide the accuracy and power required for high performance
With respect to your day-to-day activities, appropriate levels of flexibility are required to do stuff like putting your socks on, doing household chores, doing the gardening and putting the shopping away etc in order to avoid straining your back or pulling a (tight) muscle.
Good posture keeps your muscles in balance. Equally so, keeping your muscles balanced keeps your posture good. When you keep your posture well aligned you attenuate all the external and internal forces your body experiences evenly about your body. This avoids overloading any specifically tight, short muscles from taking excessive loads on their own and hugely reduces the likelihood of pulling or straining those muscles...
At Bodyguards we have the equipment and skills to assess and quantify your postural alignment with a great deal of accuracy and detail. If you want to work on improving your posture we can write you a daily Posture Programme to help correct the imbalances and stretch the tight stuff...Back to blog listing