A Third Component of Fitness — Flexibility

I’ve been sporadically writing about the 5 components of fitness.  We are not truly fit, unless we are fit in all five areas:

Today I want to talk a little about flexibility.  Flexibility is good, and we improve our flexibility through stretching.  According to the Mayo Clinic,  “Stretching promotes equal balance. stretching improves range of motion of your joints and boosts circulation.  Stretching can even promote better posture and relieve stress.”  Stretching even increases blood flow to our muscles and may even improve athletic performance and decrease the risk of activity injuries.

 

Yoga is a wonderful practice for many things, including boosting our flexibility.  However, as with everything else, too much of a good thing can lead to problems.  There is a lot of talk lately in the yoga world, about being too flexible as it can lead to injury.

 

A lot has been written lately including this article in Elephant Journal pointing out that flexibility without strength can lead to all sorts of injuries including deterioration of the hip joint in women.  Women’s hips wear out more than men because women have looser hip ligaments to accommodate childbirth.  However as helpful as this is for childbirth, it can create problems for stability and proper joint function.  The article goes on to stress that women need to combine strengthening exercises with flexibility (yoga) in order to avoid possibly debilitating injury.

 

Which leads me back to my opening statement, we need to be fit in all 5 areas of fitness including flexibility and muscle strength to be truly fit and healthy.  Flexibility without strength is harmful, as is strength without flexibility!

 

Sources:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/03/sunday-review/womens-flexibility-is-a-liability-in-yoga.html?_r=0

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/07/when-flexibility-becomes-a-liability-michaelle-edwards/

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fitness/MY00396/DSECTION=stretching-and-flexibility  “Stretching promotes equal balance