What Is Flexibility?

Everybody assumes that you do some stretching and your flexibility will get better, right?

Well not really.

Firstly, not every person has a tight, stiff body. Some people are born with a natural flexibility and their body doesn’t need a lot of stretching. What they do benefit from is strengthening. One of the Pilates principles is to develop long, strong muscles that can perform and have strength at the end range of any movement.

For example, there’s no point in having a great range of movement in a golf swing if it doesn’t have any power!

What a lot of people miss when trying to get flexible is that it’s just like any other type of physical training. It needs to be very specific for each individual, have a structured, time framed program with progressions and have a measurable goal.

One example would be a basic sit and reach test.

 

Can you sit completely upright with your legs stretched out in front of you and the feet flat against the wall?

Many of the PILATES MAT exercises use this long leg “sitting” position. If you do not have great flexibility, you will not only struggle to do these exercises, but it will be uncomfortable and may even cause pain in your spine.   

Just attempting to sit in this position won’t improve your long-term flexibility, but it will highlight how much work you need to do and you can easily measure your improvement.

There is another reason that “just stretching” may not be the best approach to becoming flexible.

One of the reasons that people get tight and stiff in the spine in the first place is due to a lack of balance in the body.

Some muscles are weak, while other muscles are overcompensating and over working. Some muscles are very tight, whilst other muscles have no tone in them at all.

Joseph Pilates was very firm in his conviction that the only way that the body functioned properly was to develop the body uniformly. This included developing the deep postural muscles that help keep us upright and support all our joints…especially the spine.

When the body is OUT of balance, the joints, including the spine can “stiffen” because they can’t move properly due to the tight muscles surrounding it.

So, if you are serious about becoming more flexible, you need a professional postural assessment to enable you to understand what specific stretches are going to be most beneficial for your needs.

Then change your mindset about stretching and flexibility, think of it in the same way you would a fitness program or a weight loss program. A little daily dedication is how you get results.

And when you do get flexibility results, it will change how you experience your daily life…for the better!



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