Flexibility is the third biggest component when we talk about our overall health and fitness. Most people, I think, know they need 1) cardiovascular strength and 2) muscular or resistance type strength. Of course nutrition is a separate entity, but if we’re just focusing on exercising… flexibility is right behind cardio and strength. And people don’t know that.
Guilty right here. That was me. It’s really why I created PiYo. I knew I needed flexibility training. My kinesiologist was saying, “Chalene, you are so inflexible. These injuries aren’t because of overtraining. They are the result of you not doing anything for your flexibility.”
And so, I began taking yoga classes and Pilates classes. Gotta be honest, though, I wasn’t a fan of holding poses for so long! This is seriously what’s running through my head in class:
“Okay, let’s just have everyone hold their pose forever so they can look around the room and stare at me, the least flexible one here. I’m the worst!”
I didn’t want to feel that way. And I also didn’t know enough about the benefits. It’s like food. If you know enough about nutrition, you don’t have to be told what to do. You WANT the benefits.
There’s a myth about flexibility training. It doesn’t have to be static stretching.
Static, meaning, holding a stretch in a specific position or pose without moving. And isn’t that what most people think of when they think about flexibility training?
If you think about when we personally need flexibility, it’s when we’re reaching and stretching to grab something or when we are running to have a longer stride. Meaning… if my hamstrings are more pliable and can stretch further, that means I can reach my leg out further while I’m running. This enables you to have a longer stride which makes it an easier stride – which makes for a faster time.
It’s dynamic flexibility that I want people to embrace as an alternative.
That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with holding a stretch. For those who have found their love and their calling in yoga or any form of static flexibility training, fantastic!
To be clear, dynamic flexibility prepares your body to move through ranges of motion performed during activity which will lessen the risk of injuries. It preps the body to move more intensely in sports and exercise, when done correctly, and sets the body up to perform at its peak.
Executing this type of flexibility training will create less tension in your muscles and you’ll have fewer aches and pains (that you might think are the result of overtraining or getting old or injuries).
Listen, a muscle that is more flexible has up to 25% greater strength potential. So if you hit a plateau, work on your flexibility and you’ll break though it!
If you’ve gone to a yoga class and thought, “It’s just not for me.” Maybe your answer is PiYo or something else out there. I just encourage people to keep searching until they find the workout that takes care of this crucial component of our overall health.
How do you stretch, if at all? Tell me in the comments below!