Flexibility is important for completing everyday activities with ease. Despite its importance flexibility is generally neglected among the general population. Not to mention, it is often misunderstood within the sports performance, athletic and fitness communities as well. As a result, flexibility is often an aspect of training that often gets pushed to the wayside in athletic and sports performance. Yoga is a great flexibility training that can help improve and maintains range of motion, reduces stiffness in your joints, reduces soreness, reduces the risk of injury, improves mobility, and performance. So many great results come from practising Yoga consistently.
Flexibility refers to the ability to move joints through their entire range of motion, from a flexed position to an extended position. Flexibility depends on many factors: muscle elasticity and length, joint structure and nervous system. While heredity controls a person’s joint structure, muscle elasticity and length and the nervous system can be positively impacted by doing Yoga consistently.
Importance of Flexibility
Improved flexibility produces a wide range of physical benefits and can have a positive effect on your overall sports performance. Here are a few ways that increased flexibility is likely to help with your athletic performance.
1. Reduce Chances of Injury
Flexibility is an indicator of muscle, tendon and ligament health. Over time constant strength training will shorten the resting length of muscles. If these muscles are not stretched out properly, you could develop muscular imbalances which can lead to a domino effect of problems. Some of these problems include altered joint function, synergistic dominance (an occurrence of improper muscle activation by the body), and altered reciprocal inhibition (a concept in which a tight agonist muscle inhibits the neural drive to its functional antagonist).
According to NASM’s Essential’s of Personal Fitness Training textbook, poor flexibility is a contributor to poor posture and dysfunctions in the kinetic chain. These dysfunctions can lead to what is known as the cumulative injury cycle. This cycle is initiated by the body as a repair process and it works as follows: cumulative injury cycle > tissue trauma > inflammation > muscle spasm > adhesions > altered neuromuscular control > muscle imbalance > cumulative injury cycle repeats itself.
By working on improving your flexibility with Yoga, you can decrease your risk of injury due to more pliable muscles.
“Yoga is great for flexibility, it’s therapeutic, and great for your attitude.”
2. Increased Muscular Strength & Endurance
Yoga is great flexibility training that can improve aerobic fitness training, muscular strength and endurance, and sport-specific training. Increased range of motion (ROM) is a key component in preventing injuries through unimpeded, fluid movement. Yoga can decrease soreness and stiffness, particularly among athletes who train at much higher frequencies and intensities. It is also a form of relaxation, which can positively impact not only physical fitness but also mental fitness. This, in turn, can positively affect sports performance through increased mental toughness.
“Yoga isn’t just about the body, it’s also about the mind and it’s a technique that has really helped me,”
3. Enhance movement & mobility
To achieve peak performance, we must utilize the full length of the muscle to exhibit power and strength. If muscles are too tight, they may not be able to provide the explosiveness necessary for a particular movement. Tight hip flexors, for example, will not allow you to extend to a full stride while sprinting, thus inhibiting performance. Flexibility enhances movement and mobility for the athlete.
4. Shorten Recovery Time
The deep stretches done during Yoga practice helps increases blood flow to your muscles. Blood flowing to your muscles brings nourishment and gets rid of waste byproducts in the muscle tissue. Improved circulation can help shorten your recovery time if you’ve had any muscle injuries.
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