Definition - What does Flexibility mean?
Flexibility is defined for a joint or a group of joints as its range of motion, or degree of extension, that its tissues are capable of. Flexibility is specific to individual joints, so it is possible to have some joints and muscle groups which are mobile and flexible, while others are tight and inflexible.
There are many factors that influence flexibility, including genetics, age, gender, injury history and activity levels. Improving flexibility is a gradual process that requires regular practice.
Yoga is known for its flexibility enhancing benefits. Many yoga asanas help to encourage muscles to lengthen and release, as well as to build their strength. Yoga helps to reduce fascial tightness and neuromuscular inhibition, both of which can reduce flexibility.
Yogapedia explains Flexibility
Yoga supports the body in improving flexibility in two main ways. Firstly, it stimulates and stretches the fascia, which is the connective tissue that surrounds and permeates bodily tissues. When the fascia is restricted or tight, it can limit the range of motion for the joints. Secondly, yoga trains the nervous system to allow the muscles to release and extend.
One way to improve flexibility is through stretching, either in a dedicated session, as part of another form of exercise, or through yoga asanas. Many people come to yoga classes in order to improve their flexibility. Often, yoga classes will include various types of stretching, including:
- Static stretching where the body is moved into a position that lengthens a muscle, then this is held for up to 60 seconds.
- Dynamic stretching where the body moves in and out of a position that lengthens a muscle, gradually increasing the range of motion of the joint.
Improved flexibility has numerous additional benefits for the body, including:
- Better posture
- Improved range of motion
- Enhanced athletic performance
- Better injury rehabilitation and prevention
- Reduced stress levels