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Flexibility and Balance

Flexibility and Balance

INstride, August 2016

Check out what we have to say about the important relationship between balance and flexibility, and how to improve flexibility for optimal movement.

Featured in the August 2016 edition of INstride:

1. How important is flexibility to balance?

Flexibility is incredibly important for good balance. While flexibility is not connected to our vestibular system, it does govern our posture, thus center of gravity. Postural deviations effect how efficiently we move, and improper movement patterns put us at a higher risk of injury. Creating flexibility by both strengthening and lengthening muscles is vital to stabilize all joints and their movement. If our balance is off and a fall does occur, having flexible muscles reduces the risk of injury as the muscles are more pliable.

2. Does flexibility change as we age?

Aging does not change our flexibility- our lifestyles and movement patterns do. The decrease in flexibility we typically see is linked to a increasingly sedentary lifestyle and/or injuries that have comprised proper movement patterns.

3. Should we stretch before or after exercise?

A dynamic stretch is great to warm up joints and muscle tissue before exercising. These stretches start slow and gradually increase intensity as the muscles warm up. It is important to get at least 5-10 minutes of a dynamic warm-up before exercising.

Static stretching is appropriate to follow exercise as the body is warm and ready to hold postures to find a greater range of motion. Additionally, the heart rate will slow, aiding in a proper cool down, as you hold a stretch and focus on breathing. The goal is to gently coax the muscle into lengthening for a greater range of motion – holding stretches for 30 seconds to one minute for each muscle group worked.

4. Are there exercises that will help improve flexibility?

Of course there are! All basic yoga poses will help improve flexibility. A movement professional can cue a person into better posture and core control for increased flexibility. If you’re looking for a group movement class tailored to mindful movement for increased flexibility, Urban Fitness Studio offers both individualized private training in addition to a group class every Wednesday at noon. There you are safely guided to explore your physical boundaries with breath work, and both dynamic and static stretching as you breathe in each posture.

Creps, Marci. “Flexibility Is Critical to Safe Movement.” INstride 1 Aug. 2016: 19-22. Print.

Written by Anna Branam, co-owner