There are many benefits of flexibility and stretching! Flexibility is a very important component of fitness, and stretching is an important activity that offers significant benefits to our health and exercise. There is no doubt that flexibility plays a huge role in any kind of sport performance. For example, the big bulky guys that play American football. I know it's hard to imagine them in Lululemon outfits doing a downward dog in a yoga class, but believe me, even they know the benefits that come with regular stretching.
For these guys, strength and power is the most important thing that they focus on, however excluding flexibility training from their regimen would lead to poor performance and possibly serious injury.
Flexibility Means Better Progress
Do you remember my post about the importance of recovery? One of the most important physical activities for recovery is plenty of stretching. If your body doesn't recover properly, than you won't see any further progress and it might be very harmful for your overall wellbeing. What happens to our muscles after very high intensity workout is that they become stiff and sore as a result of micro tears. If you slack on your cool down and stretching, your muscles will experience blood pooling which means that the blood that carried oxygen and nutrients to the muscles won't return back to the heart and the waste product called lactic acid stays in the muscles. This is why we experience swelling and pain sometimes even for a few days after an intense workout. Proper stretching helps with muscle recovery, blood circulation, and removing waste product. Muscles that are stretched on a daily basis can contract and relax efficiently which means that you will be jamming through the routines, beating your own records and looking better each day.
As we get older, each year our muscles and joints become stiffer, and our bodies less flexible. Obviously we can't stop getting older, however the only reason why you see so many old people with limited range of motion to the point that even looking over their shoulder is painful, is the lack of flexibility training and poor lifestyle choices. I am not trying to be disrespectful to elderly people. Not at all. I am just saying that your body can age with grace, strength, and flexibility if that's what you want. There are many amazing people out there that can prove it to you like this lady:
I used old people as an example on purpose. It's the extreme when it comes to lack of flexibility, but unfortunately there are many young people with the same issues. This video of Ms. Tao was a huge wake up call for me. She is way more flexible than I am and she is 62 years older than me. I am 62 years younger than her and I can't do what she does?! She is an incredibly inspiring woman and has definitely raised the bar for me.
No more excuses! Let's dedicate 15 extra minutes a day on top of our workouts to stretching and flexibility work. It's worth the time, given that you will speed up your progress by a lot.
Have a great day and let me know how did you do with our Benchmark Workout.