Flexibility often gets left out of fitness routines, despite the importance of flexibility to your overall health and well-being. Many people often find reasons to skip any type of flexibility routine when working out, especially when in a time crunch, but skipping stretching and flexibility can keep you from reaching your fitness goals.
You can easily work some flexibility training into your normal routine, and the same high-end gym athletic wear you use for your regular workouts can transition to any type of flexibility workout. In fact, whether you need men’s athletic wear or women’s athletic clothing, BodCraft creates workout clothing by athletes for athletes that works perfectly for any kind of intense workout. This post explains not just the benefits of adding flexibility to your workouts but also gives you some options for doing so.
What Can Flexibility Do for You?
Elite athletes have been using flexibility to increase performance for decades, but flexibility can do more than just benefit your performance. Adding flexibility can:
- Lower your risk for injury: Increasing your flexibility can decrease your chance of injury. Flexibility offers you a better range of motion while working out and helps reduce muscle imbalances that lead to injury. When you have tight muscles, you tend to overuse muscles because you’re overcompensating for tightness. Flexibility corrects this issue so that you train with better muscle balance, evenly using all muscles appropriately.
- Improve balance and posture: Most flexibility routines force you to become more aware of your body. Body awareness plays a big role in balance and posture. The more you increase your flexibility, the more you’re aware of how your body aligns. Increased flexibility offers you the ability to have better balance and posture, and body awareness allows you to perceive when you’re not aligned properly so that you can correct your balance and posture. Doing so helps your performance and training, giving your better balance and posture while you work out.
- Increase mobility: Many people confuse flexibility and mobility, and you may assume that mobility is something best-suited for older adults. However, mobility can really enhance your workout. Mobility uses both strength and flexibility to greater not just a greater range of motion, but a range of motion that can handle higher loads. Whether you lift or run for miles, increased mobility can take your workout up a notch.
You don’t need a different wardrobe to incorporate flexibility into your workouts. The same gym athletic wear you use for a tough summer workout can give you the support and range of motion needed for any flexibility routine.
Which Works Best: Stretching, Yoga, or Pilates?
Now that you know just how beneficial flexibility can be for you, you don’t have to rely just on static stretching. In fact, you have three great options to choose from, each with its own unique benefits. Which one you choose to use depends on your goals, but you can incorporate all three options and take advantage of all these flexibility workouts have to offer.
When it comes to stretching, some people think it looks weak, but those who want to improve their workouts and athletic performance know that they can use two different types of stretching to enhance their physicality:
- Static stretching: This is probably the type of stretching that comes to mind. You simply hold your joint in a stretched position for an amount of time, attempting to increase your range of motion. Static stretching is best done when you’ve warmed up for about 10 minutes first.
- Dynamic stretching: Unlike passive static stretching, dynamic stretching is an active stretch. You can prep for your workout by doing bodyweight movements, constantly contracting and relaxing your muscles.
You may see some people using ballistic stretching, but ballistic stretching can do more harm than good. In this type of stretching, you’re forcing yourself to reach an increased range of motion by moving quickly and powerfully. You can cause your muscles to tighten, not relax, with ballistic stretching.
Yoga comes in many forms—over 100 to be exact—but all types have you perform a sequence of movements that stretch your body and increase your balance. Unlike traditional stretching, adding yoga is like adding another workout to your routine. Not only will you build strength and flexibility, but you’ll also add in breathing exercises and meditation. Yoga works great for beginners and seasoned professionals alike and allows you to explore your limits at your level.
If you want to focus on flexibility and meditation, yoga might be your best choice, but if you want to take it to another level, then Pilates may be your best bet. Pilates uses a range of movements combined with specific breathing patterns to focus on core strength and stability. A Pilates workout makes a great option for any age or fitness level, and beginners and athletes both will find Pilates to be a great way to push their flexibility.
Pilates looks deceptively simple and often gets confused with yoga, but Pilates can offer an intense full-body workout, especially if you use a reformer. You use the springs of a Pilates reformer to add resistance to your routine. Doing so helps build strength in addition to flexibility as you flow through the movements. Since a reformer is an effective weight workout, you have to plan carefully around your existing workout, but especially if you’re a competitive athlete, Pilates makes a great choice for sport-specific cross-training.
In addition to cross-training, Pilates also works well to rehab an injury. You may think you’re out of the gym when you get injured, but as long as your healthcare provider agrees, a Pilates workout can be excellent rehab, especially if you’re recovering from a surgery, like knee surgery. Physical therapists have used reformers for years in their practices, recognizing the ability of the reformer to strengthen your muscles without bearing loads on your joints vertically.
No matter what flexibility routine you choose, flexibility offers a sure way to increase good posture, balance, and mobility while also decreasing your risk of injury. To be sure you get the range of motion you need to get the most out of your flexibility workout, be sure to use the best gym athletic wear you can find, like the extensive offering by BodCraft. BodCraft makes breathable, high-end workout gear perfect for any type of workout.