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Flexibility – The Importance of Stretching

The Importance of Stretching

Are you primarily sedentary, middle-aged or elderly?

If so, you could be affected by the range of motion of your joints. Simple tasks such as bending down or reaching overhead may be difficult for you, and little do you know that your risk of injury is increased.

Now, most individuals know the importance of stretching and its role in an overall exercise program, yet do not implement it themselves. The last thing you want to be worrying about as you age is how you are going to perform your activities of daily living effectively.

  • If you cannot bend your knees or even raise your arm above your head, how are you going to live?
  • Would you rather be independent or have some of the simple tasks in life done for you?

As with most things, flexibility declines with age.

It appears that flexibility declines 20% to 30% between the ages of 30 and 70 years. If you find that you are having trouble touching your toes now, or find it impossible to look over your shoulder, imagine how these concerns will develop over time unless they are addressed.

In essence, flexibility can determine an individual’s quality of life.

Flexibility can help a person meet the functional demands of life as well as enhance their participation in leisure activities or sports such as golf. Not only can stretching help you achieve full range of motion in your thoracic region and shoulders, but studies have shown that muscular strength and power can be increased. This would enable you to drive that ball longer and get that handicap down to a level which you are satisfied with.

Excuses…

A number of excuses are made to explain why stretching is not performed throughout the week.

Time is the main barrier.

To put it into perspective, emerging evidence shows that a daily stretching dose of 180 seconds each day is all that is required to improve a specific joint range of motion. 180 seconds or 3 minutes – however you want to interpret it, that’s all it takes.

I’m sure everyone can find a spare 3 minutes in their day to incorporate a few stretches. Stretching is easy to perform and can be completed whilst performing other tasks such as reading or talking on the phone with a client.

After all, would you rather spend 3 minutes each day stretching in order to maintain/improve your overall flexibility OR spend the rest of your life struggling with simple tasks?

Blog post written by

Nicholas Rodionoff
Exercise Physiologist, Executive Medicine

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