How to Become More Flexible (Because Yes, It’s Important )

Flexibility is important at every age to prevent injury and maintain mobility and muscle function Bend down and touch your toes. At some time or another, all of us have tried it — either as a way to test our flexibility or become more flexible.

Touching your toes, like all other bend-and-hold moves, requires our muscles to stretch. “Flexibility is the amount of stretch that a given muscle allows,” Every muscle in our bodies is made up of long strands of muscle fibers, or cells, bunched together into progressively larger groups and ultimately wrapped in connective tissue called fascia. Our muscles, by design, contract (which allows you to do things like move or carry an object or push open a door) and also stretch, he explains. And the opposing stretch is just as important as the contraction.

Why Flexibility Is an Important Component of Exercise

If a muscle doesn’t have the ability to sufficiently relax and stretch, it will change your body’s biomechanics, potentially leading to strain or stress on other parts of the body, Eventually a muscle that cannot sufficiently relax and stretch can limit our mobility.

Mobility is the ability for joints (where two or more bones meet) to move through their full and healthy range of motion without being restricted by other tissues like ligaments, tendons, or muscles. When mobility becomes limited because muscles are too tight, the ability to safely perform everyday tasks as well as exercises ranging from running to strength training diminishes, Think of a dancer who tries to kick her leg over her head without warming up first or a pitcher who tries to throw a fastball as soon as he steps out of the locker room. Both are practically asking for an injury. If flexibility becomes severely limited, even everyday tasks (like bending over to pick up something you’ve dropped or lifting a suitcase) can similarly increase the risk of muscle strains and tears.

What’s more, it’s important to remember that everything in your body is connected. So when one muscle gets too tight, it pulls on neighboring bones and muscles. And if one joint can’t move like it should, other joints have to pick up the slack in order to keep you moving. Over time, this can result in overuse injuries such as tendinitis.

Inflexible muscles can also result in struggles performing everyday activities such as reaching behind you to retrieve something from the back seat of the car or crouching down onto the floor to play with your children or grandchildren. This is especially true in older adults, as flexibility naturally declines as part of the aging process.