Five health reasons to do flexibility training
We all know that stretching can increase your flexibility. That is also the main reason why people do flexibility training: to be flexible and learn the split. There are more health benefits involved in doing flexibility training though! Here is a top 5 reasons why you should do flexibility training to improve your health.
1. Reduces stress levels
We tend to live an increasingly stressful life these days. Our jobs become more demanding, some of us have families they have to take care of or we have to study all day to get our University degrees. Flexibility training is your escape to this stressful life. Even if it is for just a couple of minutes, this already improves health. When you stretch you have to concentrate on the exercises. Combine it with proper breathing and the tingling feeling at the end of the workout really helps to reduce stress levels. Now stress has been linked to several diseases including heart disease. Despite the fact that nutrition is the number one method to avoid heart disease, reducing stress levels does a great deal too!
Besides that stress is linked to a decreased emotional and psychological well-being. Healthy mind, healthy body; a famous quote from a popular sports brand really is true. When you feel emotionally and psychologically stable and sane you’ll see direct results on your physical health too. This becomes most apparent when your psychological health is at risk by a disease like depression. People who are depressed become sick more easily and stop taking care of themselves properly.
2. Improves posture
Another common ‘health problem’ that comes with modern day is bad posture. Computers are great and internet is even more awesome, but it comes at a cost for our bodies. We tend to get into bad postures with heightened shoulders; head tilted forward, neck in a strain and hips in a sitting position all day. These are all signs of bad posture. For the active individuals who do not have a desk job this may not be of big concern. Except perhaps that most people are addicted to their phones nowadays. The same negative effects to your posture apply to using your phone on a regular basis.
Unfortunately we are not always able to get away from the computer or our phones. I tend to sit behind my laptop for hours which is not necessarily great for my posture. However, by stretching my muscles regularly I prevent most of the negative effects that impose on my posture. Stretching kind of untighten the muscles. When your chest muscles are very strong and tight, they pull your shoulders forward for example. By stretching your chest, you can really ‘open up’ those muscles, allowing your shoulders a more naturally and beneficial posture. Hip stretches are also crucial for those who sit on a chair all day long.
3. Improves breathing
One of the relatively few bad habits I had was my breathing technique. Sometimes I ‘forget’ to breath and go long time without properly breathing. I also don’t breathe in and out that often. Usually I breath in and out for about 6x a minute. Stretching, however, allows you to focus on your breathing. Much like with yoga, you have to breathe properly during your stretching poses. I know a lot of people and especially men don’t really like yoga that much because it’s all a bit too spiritual for them. Regardless, one of the most important things yoga can teach you is the breathing technique they use. It mostly comes down to calm deep breathing.
You may have picked up that breathing is rather important in some biology class. We can’t go without oxygen that long. But a wrong breathing technique also causes fatigue, dizziness, headaches, various sorts of pains and simply not feeling right. Try this: Breath in deeply for 5 seconds, hold your breath about 3 counts and then completely exhale. Repeat this for 2 minutes and you’ll feel so much more energized. This same effect can be found back in stretching. Stretching relaxes you enough so that you can also really focus on your breathing. There is actually a direct benefit to breathing properly for the stretching too. The better you breathe, the better and easier you can reach your maximum range of motion. So in simple terms: it helps you stretch deeper.
4. Reduces risk for injuries
I have warned my viewers on YouTube to not stretch BEFORE a workout. It doesn’t reduce the risk of getting injured in most cases. Unless you need flexibility for the activity you have planned though. Anyways, a greater range of motion can actually help decrease the risk of getting injured. Think of it this way. If you do the split, but cannot actually do a split in the first place, you WILL get injured. But with stretching you can get into that position without hurting yourself eventually.
There is a turning point however. Being flexible can be great, but being overly flexible increases the risk of getting injured. When your muscles and joints have a great mobility, they also become more instable. And instable joints could dislocate more easily for example. Most of us won’t have this problem, but it is worth mentioning as it is all about balance.
5. Improves sleep
Last but not least, it improves sleep. We all know how important sleeping is to your health and well-being. This becomes clear when we have had a bad night of rest. Our entire focus and drive diminishes after sleeping badly for just a few hours. Many people have difficulty sleeping because they are preoccupied too much. They are constantly thinking about their busy schedules or overthink the day, making them fall asleep too late. Not to forget the usage of cellphones, television or computers with their bright light can keep us from sleeping properly.
Instead of checking the phone before bedtime, take 15-20 minutes to do some stretching. Not only does this take your mind off things, it helps you to relax entirely and it empties your head. Another very beneficial effect of this is that if you step into bed after a routine, you’re more flexible. This flexibility helps you get into the sleeping position that is most comfortable to you.
So there you have it, 5 main health reasons why you should pick up flexibility training. Check out my other blog articles on flexibility, health, fitness and nutrition and check out my YouTube channel as well!