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Physical flexibility - what role does it play in our health?

Asked on January 11, 2015
Created December 28, 2011 at 4:34 PM

Being flexible - are there health benefits?

Being too flexible - health benefits or negative effects?

Should we stretch everyday? If so, why?

62fafa8cb15af7c562fa8c270f7b6174

(619)

on August 17, 2012
at 02:00 AM

AIS guidelines feel the best in my opinion. The more paleo I eat the better I stretch, my body suddenly can-do where it couldn't. It's such a good feeling.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on December 28, 2011
at 10:42 PM

Good call...I have been stretching that way for a while. Guess I just considered it active range of motion with a pause. Didn't know it was any sort of technique. Might have to check it out.

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2 Answers

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96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 28, 2011
at 05:00 PM

I can speak to the too-flexible issue; it has both negative and positive consequences.

On the negative side, I could never play tug-of-war or go across the monkey bars because my arms would pull out of my shoulders. In 18 months of aerobics, I stretched one shoulder so much I had to have surgery to shrink the joint capsule. Etc., etc.

On the good side, here I am at 64 and I walk like a person in my 20s because I'm simply not tight and stiff like many older folks. Despite a cervical fusion, I have a full range of motion in my neck. I can sit cross-legged like a kid and I have a spring in my step.

I used to feel very sorry for myself (boo, hoo) but now I feel fortunate.

1
Medium avatar

on December 28, 2011
at 05:42 PM

Ah, stretching. I took it up in my 20s, when I got serious about running. It just seemed self evident that stretching would be beneficial to counteracting the tightening that goes with running. My regimen consisted of the most basic hatha yoga asanas. Lots of long, slow, static stretches. Felt fantastic.

As time passed and I continued running, I slacked off on stretching. Just became less rigorous about it. I suffered no ill effects from not stretching. I became aware of a prevailing view that cautioned against over stretching cold muscles. "Do a few light stretches prior to exercise, then get your body warm/hot by working out, and then feel free to stretch long and deep." I have read studies indicating that runners who stretch suffer no fewer injuries than runners who don't.

These days I'm a fan of Active Isolated Stretching, which aims to control the body???s stretch reflexes in conjunction with the specific isolated manual release of individual muscles and their corresponding muscle groups. The technique involves the method of holding each stretch for only two seconds. This avoids reflexive contraction of the antagonistic muscle. Without activating antagonistic muscle group contraction, full range of motion and flexibility can be successfully achieved, or restored. Proponents claim the incorporation of AIS into a regular exercise regimen can substantially reduce the risk of injury. Benefits: optimized muscle and tendon range of motion up to 1.6 times resting range; facilitating the removal of metabolic waste products; reduced risk of muscle, tendon, and ligament injuries; rehabilitating muscle, tendon, and ligament injuries; facilitating the flow of lymphatic fluid; improving preparation for athletic activity; maximizing the potential and level of athletic performance; and reduced postural tightness.

My main teachers are dogs and cats. They stretch briefly, and continue moving. Far preferable to what goes on in most yoga classes.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on December 28, 2011
at 10:42 PM

Good call...I have been stretching that way for a while. Guess I just considered it active range of motion with a pause. Didn't know it was any sort of technique. Might have to check it out.

62fafa8cb15af7c562fa8c270f7b6174

(619)

on August 17, 2012
at 02:00 AM

AIS guidelines feel the best in my opinion. The more paleo I eat the better I stretch, my body suddenly can-do where it couldn't. It's such a good feeling.

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