“Training for strength and flexibility is a must. You must use it to support your techniques. Techniques alone are no good if you don’t support them with strength and flexibility.”
I am really throwing down the gauntlet by starting a blog with a kick ass quote by Bruce Lee, but flexibility gets downplayed all over gyms and fitness centers every day. I will see instructors rushing students through the warm up in Spin as they sort of, kind of stretch their upper bodies so they can get to the routine. In a HIIT class I took today, they don’t even bother stretching until the end, and it is an after thought while the instructor makes announcements.
Flexibility is as important as cardio and as strength training to your overall fitness. I am going to let you digest that one for a second. It is not something to just sort of do at the end, while chatting with your friend about what exactly match is anyway at the end of Cardio Kickboxing. When we know better, we do better right? So here are few easy to remember reasons why we should care more and do more to improve our flexibility.
Weak back and abdominal muscles can cause or worsen low back pain. That’s why stretching and strengthening your back and abdominal muscles are important not only for treating low back pain, but also for helping to prevent a recurrence of the problem. Remember when everyone was constantly talking about our core? well, they all sort of still do. Anyway… My point is having a strong back will prevent a whole bunch of problems, and you can start with stretching. That is right, regular old stretching while watching This is Us!
Skill execution and reduced risk of injury will be greatly enhanced if the body has the flexibility necessary for that particular sport. There is also an argument that stretching may reduce post exercise muscle soreness, or DOMS, by reducing muscle spasm associated with exercise. So, the stretching the bike club all blew off before the 100 mile ride was actually a bad call. That is probably why they can barely walk the next day at work.
Stretching increases circulation, can help realign muscle imbalances, increase range of motion, and reduce your risk of ongoing aches and pains due to poor posture or tight muscles. Increased range of motion, in particular, can also help improve your sports performance and reduce your risk of injury.
Athletic performance is improved through flexibility. If the bike riders who didn’t stretch want to be faster, have great endurance and recover quicker, spending time stretching or including Pilates in their regular workout schedule would help their times tremendously. It is time well spent.
Flexibility improves gives us greater balance. Stretching can help increase your overall flexibility, but it may also help improve your posture, manage pain caused by tight muscles and help you stay balanced. Since muscles come in pairs that ideally counterbalance each other, stretching and strengthening the muscles opposite the ones that always seem tight might help.
So before you blow off the stretching at the end of Spin, or to pick up your phone to cruise through Instagram during your favorite TV show, what if you were to focus on your flexibility? I wouldn’t want to go against the advice of Bruce Lee would you??