September 22, 2011 | by

Flexibility is defined as the range of possible motion around a joint. As we age, joint mobility proves crucial for muscular strength, proper posture, and full range of motion. Flexibility exercises—with their gentle movements—help increase the length of connective tissues and muscles.

Flexibility exercises also can help reduce stress, alleviate lower back pain and greatly diminish the chance of injury. A program can be simple (such as stretching major muscle groups upon waking in the morning) or involved (such as doing yoga, pilates or tai chi).

The recommended method to increase flexibility is a regular stretching program, practiced three-to-seven days a week.


Flexibility exercise benefits

  • Increased flexibility and range of motion in joints. Vital for good posture, increasing flexibility (especially hip flexors and hamstrings) and helping to alleviate a majority of lower back pain. Some experts believe stretching can relieve up to 80% of lower back pain cases. One common cause of these pains: short, tight hip-flexor muscles. A stretching program to lengthen these muscles may reduce the risk of pain (The Genius of Flexibility, Bob Cooley, 2005). The American Arthritis Foundation advises moving joints through their full range of motion daily. They caution everyday activities do not accomplish this.
  • Reduced stress: In today’s hectic world, we face stress on many fronts. Tense or tight muscles may be linked to that stress and can be eased with flexibility exercise. Michael J. Alter, former gymnastics coach and author of The Science of Flexibility states, “One of the greatest benefits of stretching is that it can help reduce stress. From a purely physiological perspective, relaxation is the cessation of muscular tension. Tension wastes energy; a contracting muscle requires more exertion than a relaxed one. Everyday experience has shown that a relaxed muscle is less susceptible to fatigue and aches and pain.”