Flexibility and the Health of Your Joints
You may not give much thought to your joints on an everyday basis, but the health and flexibility of your joints is crucial to maintaining an active and pain-free lifestyle. While natural flexibility does vary from person to person, there are steps you can take to improve and maintain your flexibility–and the reasons it’s important to do so may surprise you.
The Negative Effects of Joint Inflexibility
Whether you used to be a gymnast or you always had trouble touching your toes, most people experience a loss in flexibility as they age. However, this isn’t something to be taken lightly, as poor flexibility can have significant repercussions on your overall health.
For starters, decreased flexibility can impact the health of the cartilage that surrounds many joints such as your knees and your hips; an inadequate range of motion in these joints can limit the blood supply and key nutrients necessary to maintain these support structures.
Lack of flexibility also affects your muscles. Inflexible muscles caused by joint tightness tend to tire much more quickly, which in turn forces the opposing muscle groups to work harder. This can increase your risk of muscular and joint injuries.
Poor flexibility can even cause abnormal stress on areas of your body that aren’t directly linked to the inflexible joint. For example, limited flexibility in your knee joint can cause calf tightness,
A Simple Stretching Routine to Improve Joint Flexibility
Now that you understand the importance of flexibility, how can you cultivate it? The best way to encourage a broad range of motion and improve joint health is through stretching. Incorporating a regular stretching routine into your daily life can help extend your joints’ range of motion and improve your flexibility–and potentially relieve joint pain.
The particular stretches that you should practice will depend on your specific areas of concern, but certain guidelines should be followed regardless. For all stretches, aim to maintain the position for one to two minutes; keep your stretches static rather than bouncing in an attempt to improve your range of motion. At the end of the stretch, gradually release the impacted joint.
By practicing your stretching routine daily, you can increase your range of motion and help maintain your orthopedic health.