Balance and Flexibility Workouts: The New “Real-World Strength”

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flexibility workouts

Most people getting into physical fitness combine weight loss oriented cardio with toning strength moves, without flexibility workouts.  For the ultimate benefit, research is indicating that you should include balance and flexibility moves, too.

Proven Results

As of 2006, Stanford’s football team was in sorry shape. The had a 1-11 record. But, starting in 2007, their training regimen changed. Instead of players spending their off-field training time lifting in the gym for bulk, they were working on improving their balance and flexibility. This year, Stanford finished with 11-3 with only one serious injury all season. NFL honchos are taking note, and it’s likely that you’ll see a lot of pro football players doing flexibility workouts that emphasize these characteristics.

The Added Benefits of Flexibility Workouts

flexibility workouts

Pilates, yoga and tai chi flexibility workouts don’t just make you more flexible and less prone to injury. Studies show that, from the very first Bikram yoga class, participants are more mentally alert, relaxed, and perform better on cognitive testing. Testing suggests that brain chemicals that reduce anxiety are released every time you do a stretching workout.

Regular stretching promotes pain relief. You will feel less soreness after flexibility workouts and will recover more quickly from minor injuries. It even can give you a boost in the sack; a 2009 Harvard study found that women who did yoga had higher levels of arousal and were more comfortable and familiar with their bodies.

Adding Stretching to Your Routine

Stretching should be part of your flexibility workouts  every time you exercise. The most commonly recommended types of stretching routines can be broken down into static and dynamic stretches. Ballistic stretching, where you bounce and try to extend a position is not recommended, since it’s a good way to tear a muscle.

Static stretches are those where you assume and hold a pose. Think standing hamstring stretches, wall calf stretches or lying quad stretches. These stretches do not increase the blood flow to the parts you are stretching, so, they should be done after you have warmed up. As with any stretch, it’s important not to overextend. Tendons and ligaments that have been stretched too far can have the opposite effect of what you want, and can cause you injuries instead of preventing them.

flexibility workouts

Dynamic stretches involve gentle movement while you stretch. They are great for the warm-up phase of your workout. Shoulder rolls, arm rotations, trunk twists and head rolls all fall into this category. Do not overextend. You should feel a pleasant pull; if it hurts, you are doing it wrong and can wind up hurting yourself.

Make 2014 about more than weight loss; use your flexibility workouts to make a stronger, more flexible, all around healthier and happier you. Football coaches at Stanford university have reduced player injuries by 87% and had an 11-3 season due to a new emphasis on balance and stability over bulk. Learn how to apply this real-world strategy to your flexibility workouts as well.

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