Being flexible and mobile is necessary for all your daily activities-from getting out of bed in the morning to intensive sports training-and is a key component to long term health and wellness. Regularly stretching and moving your joints and muscles through a full range of motion along with maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle will help you perform your daily activities, reduce your risk of injury, decrease your chances of developing chronic aches and pains, help reduce physical and emotional stress and keep you active for years to come.
Joints that are fully mobile with good supportive strength around them have a reduced risk of injury. Enhancing your normal exercise routine with stretching and dynamic range of motion exercises increases the flexibility of your joints, enables your muscles to work more efficiently, improves your performance and helps prevent muscle, tendon and ligament injuries. Stretching with active range of motion exercises also helps increase circulation, blood supply, oxygen and nutrients to your muscles, joints and connective tissues-which enhances recovery and reduces sore muscles after a workout.
A lack of flexibility can also be part of what creates back pain. When your hamstrings, buttocks, hip flexors, and quadriceps are tight and/or weak it can place additional stress to your lower back. Muscles will tend, to some degree, to lose their flexibility as part of the natural aging process. But they will also become stiff due to inactivity and loss of strength, regardless of age. Maintaining healthy, strong, flexible muscles is beneficial to relieving or even preventing back pain and will enable you to move freely, keep your joints in good shape and optimize your functionality and independence as you age.
Movements that include stretching also help relax the mind and body once your workout is complete and is a great way to relieve stress. Stress overload can manifest itself in many different ways. Physical symptoms include aches & pains, illness, diarrhea & constipation, nausea, dizziness, loss of sex drive, and rapid heartbeat. Emotional symptoms include agitation, moodiness, inability to relax, irritability, isolation, depression, and general unhappiness. A daily exercise program can help prevent physical and emotional stress overload symptoms and the health consequences that come with it. End your daily exercise program with gentle stretching/muscle lengthening movements while you practice stress tempering techniques that focus on your breathing to relax and rejuvenate the mind and body.
Good nutritional habits are also important to ensure your muscle health. If your muscles and joints are carrying extra weight it can lead to muscle strains and injury. Learning how to replenish your body with quality low fat proteins, healthy carbohydrates and fats, as well as supplements when needed can help support joint health and improve your mobility.