The full benefits of flexibility training transcend positive physiological outcomes and aren’t physiologically or fitness related.
Engaging in regular flexibility exercises has been shown to relieve muscle pain, increase movement range of motion, support healthy joint function throughout the lifespan, and reduce the risk of injury.
However, there is more to range of motion to consider for those that need a motivation boost to train flexibility.
Additional Benefits of Flexibility Training
Incorporating a variety of flexibility exercises in client fitness programs (either during training sessions or as take-home activities) will allow clients to explore such benefits of mind-body connection, relaxation, and stress management to name a few.
Let’s take a closer look at some of these less obvious positives of stretching it out. According to Alter (2004), the benefits of a flexibility program are infinite. Alter (2004) outlined the following positive outcomes related to flexibility training.
According to Alter (2004), the benefits of a flexibility program are infinite. Alter (2004) outlined the following positive outcomes related to flexibility training.
1. Harmonization of the Mind, Body, and Spirit. The mind, body, and spirit are integrally connected, but because we (and our clients) live busy lives, this can create a chasm resulting in a less than harmonious balance. We can lose touch with ourselves and our intention.
Practicing flexibility through an activity such as Yoga offers a unique opportunity to quiet the mind, improve physical strength, and reconnect with our spiritual intentions and life goals. It’s in those quiet poses and pranayamas (controlling of breath) that we allow a connection to reemerge. Balance the mind, strengthen the body, and unite with the spirit
Here is a Yoga series you can implement.
2. Reduced Stress and Body Tension. The body of literature – current and present – supports the hypothesis that engaging in stretching activities promotes relaxation and is a valid approach to overall stress management. Stress is a common factor in life and we most likely can’t eradicate it, but we can teach clients how to manage it effectively. A flexibility program is one way to conquer stressors.
3. Cultivation of Self-discipline and Self-knowledge. “Most of us live undisciplined lives; that is, our responses are often conditioned by mindless habit” (Alter, 2004, p. 7). Sound familiar? Just as any physical training program does, developing improved flexibility gives us something to struggle against and lean into.
Flexibility practice stretches more than our muscles. It offers an opportunity to expand our minds and mentally evaluate and meditate even if we only do so for 10 minutes at a time.
4. Improved Posture and Body Symmetry. It’s well known that many of us don’t use proper posture throughout the workday. We hunch over desks, use workspaces that aren’t ergonomically designed, or commute long distances to jobs.
Improving posture may decrease or eliminate dysfunctions (low back pain caused by tight hip flexors, for example – developed most often from sitting too much and lack of flexibility).
5. Improved Sleep. This purported benefit is related to the relaxation quality of a stretching routine. A bedtime stretching routine or a short yoga workout an hour before bed may enhance your clients’ sleep quality and quantity. Reduce the stress, relax the body and mind, and improve overall sleep.
6. Enjoyment and Pleasure. One of the greatest benefits of engaging in a daily flexibility routine is the joy factor. It feels good to do something good for the body and the mind. While stretching has been shown to promote relaxation, it can also reenergize.
If you or your clients have a stressful and busy day, taking a mid-day break for 15 minutes to “stretch-it-out” can help reroute the day and allow for a pleasurable experience.
Flexibility training isn’t just valuable for achieving a better range of motion and preventing injury – it’s an aspect of fitness that can provide more than physical benefits.
How do you incorporate flexibility into your training programs with your clients?
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Alter, M. (2004). Science of Flexibility, 3rdEdition. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.