Flexibility refers to the extent of our range of motion for any given joint in our body. The best way to improve flexibility is stretching. The benefits of stretching include better posture, more restful sleep, and a whiter smile. Ok, it's certainly a real possibility that none of those are proven benefits of stretching. The fact of the matter is that there is not a long list of proven benefits of stretching. That’s not to say that no one benefits from stretching, only that what works for one person might not work for another. However, seeing that we have already begun to explore the world of flexibility, let’s continue.
Kids, Don’t Try This at Home
Let’s start with the “absolutely do not do these” of stretching.
1.Bouncing- When you start a stretch such as bending at the waist to touch your toes, do not engage in a bouncing motion. This is called ballistic stretching. Now I know what you may be thinking. If I don’t bounce I can’t actually touch my toes. They are my toes and I ought to be able to reach them. It certainly is a cruel injustice that our advanced age robs us of our toe touching capability that we enjoyed in our youth, but ballistic stretching can cause injury quite easily. Increasing flexibility takes time and consistency. If you are determined, you will touch your toes again one day.
2. Phalanges- Your fingers and toes are not designed to increase flexibility. The ligaments and muscles in your fingers and toes simply do not operate in the same way as your other joints. In this area of flexibility, your genetics will determine the extent of your range of motion. Don’t injure your fingers by stretching them past their natural range of motion.
3. Contortion- If your goal in life is to become a contortionist, find another goal. The idea of folding yourself neatly into a small box is appealing, but genetics determine your ability for an abnormal range of motion. Not to mention contortionists run a higher risk of joint pain.
Stay tuned for the conclusion of our journey into the world of flexibility.