The benefits of flexibility for health and sporting performance is a contentious topic both in the mainstream media and academic literature. However, improving flexibility is a very popular past-time with the rise of Yoga and Pilates being evidence of this.

For optimal performance you need to have enough flexibility to complete your sport and go about your everyday activities. Therefore, everyone will require varying degrees of flexibility. It is also probably true that being too flexible may actually increase injury risk and impair performance.

The most common way of increasing your flexibility is through static stretches. Such as in the picture below……

For these stretches to be most effective, research suggests they should be held for between 30-60 seconds, repeated 2-4 times and performed daily. They should also be completed when muscles are warm so for example at the end of a workout or after a hot bath.

Interestingly, if stretches are carried out before exercise, they have been shown to actually result in a reduction in muscle force, power and balance, with these effects lasting up-to 2 hours. So warm-ups are not the time to try & improve your flexibility; rather move your joints & muscles through their current range of motion.

There are a whole host of factors that contribute to your flexibility, such as:

  • Muscle length
  • Muscle tone
  • Joint mobility
  • Nerve mobility
  • Fascial mobility

If any one of these are limiting movement it may present as stiffness. It can be hard for you to determine which is the causative factor so if unsure why not make an appointment with us today.


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