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The importance of flexibility

Tight and stiff muscles limit our normal range of movement and for some people a lack of flexibility can be a contributing factor to muscle and joint pain. Lack of flexibility can make simple daily activities like bending down, lifting or walking difficult. Stiff muscles interfere with proper muscle action. Decreased performance and muscle movement control can occur if the muscles cannot contract and relax efficiently. Short, tight muscles also cause a loss of strength and power during physical activity. A restriction in blood circulation can result in increased muscle fatigue and inhibit the muscles ability to recover from strenuous activity. Good blood circulation helps muscles receive adequate amounts of oxygen and nutrients. Tight, stiff muscles have the potential to:           -decrease mobility          -decrease muscle metabolism          -decrease muscle co-ordination/balance          -decrease power ‘output’          -decrease speed & performance          -increase the risk of injuries Flexibility is just one of several components of physical fitness that include – strength, endurance, power, speed, balance, co-ordination. Each sport or fitness activity will require different levels of each component.  As we age our flexibility tends to deteriorate. This can be due to physical degeneration and a more sedentary lifestyle, but age should not be a barrier to a fit and active lifestyle. You may need to work at it longer, be more patient for results and take more care when stretching. Increasing your flexibility improves blood circulation = healthy muscles, increases your range of motion in joints which leads to better balance, making you less susceptible to falls. Good flexibility is also beneficial for everyday life – putting socks and shoes on, picking up objects, gardening… Most of us know the benefits associated with stretching regularly, but many of us (including myself!) don’t do any on a regular basis (perhaps when a muscle starts to feel tight/restricted) …”our perceived lack of time and busyness

getting in the way!” As well as stretching being incorporated into your exercise plan, stretching can be done anywhere, at any time i.e. at your desk or in front of the TV.   Tai chi, Yoga, Pilates are also all good activities that can help with flexibility & strength. They’re also fun and sociable. There are always local classes available in your area.   My next blog will be all about how to stretch safely so if you would like to keep up to date with our blog make sure you follow us on facebook and keep on eye on the website.  As we now know relaxed muscles aid in stretching so if you need a massage or 2 to help relax those muscles before you start to stretch or pick up a class then please do not hesitate to book an appointment with us at Head2Toe Massage in Rangiora.  All of our therapists are very knowledgeable and will be more than happy to adjust the massage to suit your sports or muscle needs.