Why You MUST Stretch…Until You DIE.
This blog contains affiliate links. For information, see full disclosure here.
This guest post was written by one of my former karate students, Tavis Strong. Tavis is very passionate about martial arts, physical fitness, stretching, and most all, learning. Recently, he achieved fitness trainer and massage therapist certification. With his thirst for knowledge, his strong work ethic, and his desire to serve others, Tavis is well on his way to becoming the best at what he does.
“Men are born soft and supple; dead, they are stiff and hard. Plants are born tender and pliant; dead, they are brittle and dry. Thus whoever is stiff and inflexible is a disciple of death. Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life. The hard and stiff will be broken. The soft and supple will prevail.” – Lao Tzu
Stretching is the act of elongating tissue. Flexibility is the range of motion a joint possesses. Mobility is how smoothly one can take that joint through it’s range of motion. Flexibility and mobility is often used interchangeably but are completely different. A person can have one but not the other. And, when it comes to training mobility is usually easier and more immediate to achieve then flexibility.
It seems more and more people have been questioning the benefit of flexibility. I believe this is due to the lack of progress many people make, despite their best efforts. This can be quit discouraging, causing some to belittle flexibility and overcompensate in other attributes such as strength and cardio. So, in order to remind you of why we must pursue flexibility, here is a list of benefits.
- Stretching increases your ability to build muscles. Just like strength training, stretching creates micro-tears in the muscle sheath allowing for nutrients and muscle growth.
- Flexibility increases your ability to produce energy. Power creation starts with your ability to contract your muscles. However, depending on the activity, the body must be relaxed in order for the energy to transfer to it intended target. Any restriction in your range of motion will cause the energy to be lost. Think of your body as a whip, if the whip is stiff and brittle the energy from the wrist cannot transfer throughout the whip.
- Flexibility increases the ability to receive energy. Energy transference is a two way street. When you are flexible your ability to absorb impact increases. It allows the body to mold in an efficient manner transferring the energy out the body safely.
- Flexibility makes learning new physical attributes easier. Your muscles are like a computer that can only hold a certain amount of information, “muscle memory”. When there is too much or undesirable information in the muscle you do not have room for new learning patterns “muscle memory”. Stretching is like cleaning your computer.
- Flexibility improves overall aesthetics of movements. Increased flexibility and mobility will allow a persons movements to look smoother, more relaxed, and complete. Many people tend to separate practicality and aesthetics. However, a persons posture and movements can have it own energy and influence on people from a distance.
- Flexibility is a reflection of your state of mind. As you begin to study more about flexibility you will find muscular tension is a buildup of habits and experiences, physical and psychological. The desire to increase one’s flexibility is not just a desire to perform impressive movements, it’s a desire to release the accumulated baggage one holds on to over the years. In massage they call this an emotional release.
Remember, we are not born strong, endurant, or agile, but flexible. And, it is upon flexibility that we build the physical skills of the human body.
Certified Fitness Trainer & Massage Therapist
Related Products. For more, visit our Foam Muscle Rollers and Mats pages.
LuxFit Foam Roller, Speckled Foam Rollers for Muscles
- FOAM ROLLERS FOR MUSCLES – LuxFit High Density Foam Roller is great for Physical Therapy, before or after Exercise, Yoga, and Massage Therapy. Foam Muscle Rollers helps to relieve Muscles Tension and increase Muscle Reflexology. Form Roller. Body Roller
- FOAM EXERCISE ROLLER HELPS PREVENT MUSCLE INJURY – Perfect for positioning, balance, postural and muscle re-education, spinal stabilization, body awareness and coordination, ranging and strengthening activities. Yoga – Fitness Foam Roller. Foam Roller for IT Band
- EXTRA FIRM GYM FOAM ROLLER – Molded polypropylene foam technology has a 2 lbs. per cubic foot density, Smooth surface, Will not lose its shape after heavy use, and Repels Liquids. Trigger Point Foam Roller. Stretching Foam Roller
- 4 SIZES AVAILABLE FOR ALL YOUR NEEDS – 36 Inch, 24 Inch, 18 Inch, 12 Inch. 36 Inch foam roller is our largest size. Black Foam Rollers are great for Back Pain and Back Exercises. Great for core stabilization, balance, and stamina. 6 Inch wide Round Foam Roller.
- FULL 3 YEAR LIMITED WARRANTY – MADE IN THE USA! – with Free Online Instructional VIDEO – Using your own body weight let the foam roller do a MyoFascial release to provide Maximum Relaxation Relief. Deep Tissue Foam Roller Massage. Foam Roller for Back. Leg Roller. Exercise Roller.
TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller with Free Online Instructional Videos, Original (13-inch):
- Patented foam roller design offers a superior, multi-density exterior constructed over a rigid, hollow core
- Constructed from quality materials that won’t break down or lose shape from repeated use
- Includes access to free online instructional video library on foam rolling best practices from the experts at TriggerPoint
- Trusted foam roller of physical and massage therapists, coaches, trainers and athletes provides muscle recovery, pain relief and improved flexibility
- Original GRID: Standard density, 13 x 5.5 inches, 500 pound weight limit; 1 year manufacturer’s warranty
Elite Massage Muscle Roller Stick:
- TARGETS SORE, TIGHT MUSCLES AND PREVENTS CRAMPS, with the massage roller stick, you can target any tight and sore muscles fast. if you roll out the targeted area for about 5 minutes, you will notice a very quick release in tension and an increase in blood circulation to the area, helping to reduce your calf, quad, IT bands or hamstring cramps tremendously. for anyone with muscle soreness, the stick is a gift from the gods
- OUR STICK ALLOWS YOU TO APPLY AS MUCH PRESSURE, OR AS LITTLE AS YOU CAN HANDLE, the muscle roller stick will help with lengthening and stretching out your muscles by applying pressure to the problem area. because its a stiff leg massage roller, you can control the pressure and therefore the pain, depending on your pain tolerance. you will definitely notice a surprising decrease in muscle fatigue by using it regularly before and after exercise
- COMFORTABLE, STURDY, AND SMOOTH ROLLING ACTION, the massage roller stick handles are very comfortable, and you won’t find your hands slipping like with some of the cheaper models. our roller stick also has a smooth rolling action due to the 2mm gap between each roller, preventing your hair being pulled on your legs. the elite myofascial release tool will keep your muscles from knotting up and helps to keep the muscle soreness at a minimum.
- COMPACT TO TRAVEL WITH AND SO CONVENIENT TO USE ANYWHERE, unlike a foam roller which can be a little awkward to use as they’re quite large, the stick is more compact in size. you can sit on the couch, stand up or even lay down and simply use the roller on whatever area you need to work on. being smaller in size, means you can pinpoint knots and work on getting them to release. We also have some great “how to videos” on our website (URL on packaging) for those that need some video instruction.
Stretching: 30th Anniversary Special Edition, (2010)
“This is the book that people tell their friends about, that trainers suggest for virtually every sport and activity, and that medical professionals recommend to people just starting to get back in shape. Stretching first appeared in 1980 as a new generation of Americans became committed to running, cycling, aerobic training, and workouts in the gym — all of which are commonplace now.
It features stretching routines specific to a variety of people, including sports enthusiasts, travelers, children, gardeners, and people in wheelchairs. There is also an abbreviated version of each routine for people in a hurry, new information on the stretching vs. warming up debate, and new and improved drawings. This 30th anniversary edition features two-color inks to better define the muscle groups helped by each stretching exercise. A new section focuses on office fitness exercises, helpful for both home and office computer users.”
Total Stretch for Beginners with Tamilee (DVD)
Go stretch yourself! I mean that in a good way.