Flexibility is determined by the body’s ability to bend and be limber with varying ranges of motion. Flexibility is important as it helps increase bloodflow to muscles, helps your joints and muscles work optimally, can improve abilities with certain physical activities and helps reduce injury to joints and muscles.
Everyone’s level of flexibility is different. Some people are less flexible genetically because their muscle length is shorter. Some people are less flexible because they live a sedentary life and do little in the way of physical activity. But everyone can make improvements each day towards increasing their flexibility.
Stretching is a great way to keep muscles pliable. It is especially helpful to stretch the muscles after working out, targeting the muscles you focused on for weight training but also beneficial to do daily stretches for the entire body. According to bodybuilding.com “When stretching, stretch slightly past the normal, comfortable range of motion (ROM). Do not stretch as far as possible, or if there is pain. In general, start out with an initial stretch of 10-15 seconds. Relax for 5-15 seconds after this, then perform 1-3 more stretches lasting 20-45 seconds.” I personally take a deep breath in and focus on the muscle being stretched as though I am sending the oxygen directly to that muscle. This also helps with mind-centering at the same time.
Yoga is another great activity to improve flexibility. You don’t need to be able to contort your body or balance on your toes while in pretzel formation. All you need to do is find a reputable studio and try a beginner or restorative yoga class to begin. I always feel taller, with better posture, after a good yoga class. Beginner classes included gentle poses and a good instructor can help with any modifications necessary to best suit your current abilities.
As well as physical flexibility, mental or cognitive flexibility is equally important for overall health. Cognitive flexibility allows you to respond mindfully to variations in situations instead of just react to unexpected changes. It allows you to form new habits instead of being stuck in the old way of doing things. It allows the brain to easily transition from one concept to another.
Physical exercise itself helps to improve flexible thinking, as does going for a walk, taking a coffee break, or trying to understand the context of a scenario from a different perspective.
Whether physical or cognitive flexiblity, both take daily practise to change. And it won’t be the type of change that happens overnight. Always keep in mind, even small or slow progress is still progress.