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Flexibility: Is it Necessary?

Girl touching her toes

Whether you're a seasoned yogi, a ballet dancer, or just someone trying to touch their toes without grunting, flexibility plays an important role in our lives. But is it really necessary? Let's dive into the world of flexibility and explore its perks and pitfalls.

Imagine dancers at the studio, warming up for a big rehearsal, or rhythmic gymnasts at the Olympics. I’m sure the first thing you picture is very flexible people sitting in splits, or lifting their legs to their ears (literally). These people are the epitome of flexibility. It seems that their bodies defy the laws of physics.  

When it comes to these particular professions, flexibility isn't just about showing off—it's essential for their craft. It’s necessary for the aesthetics and the story-telling aspect of the job. We all don't need this level of flexibility, but we all need to be limber to a certain extent. Even Joseph Pilates says "You are only as young as your spine is flexible". There are many reasons why.

 The Perks of Being Limber

Dancer woman doing a split

1. Injury Prevention

Flexibility acts as a protective shield for our muscles and joints. Imagine your hamstrings as stretchy rubber bands. When you reach down to tie your shoelaces, those flexible hamstrings happily comply. But if they were rigid like a steel rod, you'd risk pulling something! So, thank your bendy muscles—they're like your body's personal bodyguards.

2. Improved Range of Motion

Flexibility isn't just about doing splits or backbends (although they’re a great party trick). It's about having the freedom to move without feeling like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz. Whether you're reaching for the top shelf or attempting a random dance move from TikTok, flexible joints make life smoother and easier. Plus, you'll be the star of every limbo contest!

3. Stress Relief

Ever notice how a stretching session makes you feel relaxed? That's because it releases tension and boosts blood flow. So, the next time you're stressed, find some calming music, get on the floor, and stretch it out.

The Pitfalls of Flexibility

 1. Hypermobility

Being too flexible can have its downsides. Some people are born with joints that are like rubber bands. They can twist their arms like pretzels and tie themselves into knots. But this hypermobility comes with a price: instability. Imagine a wobbly table or chair—you don't want that for your joints. So, balance is key.

2. Overstretching Injuries (Sprains, Strains…)

Remember in yoga class when you pushed yourself into a crazy asana (pose), and suddenly your hamstring screamed at you? If not, I’m sure you can easily imagine this. Overstretching can lead to strained muscles, ligaments and an unhappy body. Listen to your body when stretching, and try not to push it too far.

3. Flexibility vs. Strength

two women stretching outside

Flexibility and strength are yin and yang to each other. Too much of one without the other creates an imbalance, so let's be friends with both. Flexibility helps you touch your toes, while strength helps you carry the groceries without collapsing. Teamwork makes the dream work!

Embrace your inner Gumby, but also appreciate your sturdy joints. Don’t forget that flexibility is genetic. No matter how much you stretch, you may not ever be as flexible as a ballerina, and that’s okay! Stretch for the positive benefits in a reasonable way. Whether you're a dancer, a yogi, or just a regular human trying to reach the top shelf, remember this: flexibility is important, but so is strength. Look into your local yoga classes or Pilates studios, or explore the many at-home practices on YouTube, including mine, to find ways to keep your spine and body limber and healthy. Keep in mind that stretching is not a warm-up, so don't confuse the two. Always do a proper warm-up before workout out.

Now, go forth, touch your toes, and celebrate the magnificent elasticity of the human body. 


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