How Flexible Do I Need to Be to Stay Out of Pain?

So I was talking to one of my patients recently, and the topic of how flexible she needed to be came up. And  the conversation reminded me that a lot of people misunderstand the concept, and the importance of being flexible. So wanted to talk about it a bit.

So her question was – how flexible do I need to be? Here were my answers.First we need to understand what flexibility is, and how it applies to you when you’re healthy, and when you are not. Here are some definitions.

What is Flexibility?

Flexibility is defined as the range of motion of your joints or the ability of your joints to move freely. It also refers to the mobility of your muscles,  and being  able to readily bend or twist  the bodywithout injury.

Range of motion is the distance and direction your joints can move.

Mobility is the ability to move without restriction.

Flexibility allows the body to respond dynamically to different challenging situations without injury. So, for instance,you’re in the kitchen and a glass slips off the counter. That ability to reach quickly to catch the glass before it hits the floor and breaks, is partly due to how flexible you are.

So We All Need to Be Very Flexible to Be Healthy, Right?

Well, not exactly. Everyone can generally become more flexible, but the extent of that is individually determined. Some people are naturally more stiff than others. Doesn’t mean that they are not healthy. Your average 70 year old doesn’t need to do a backbend – so their spinal flexibility is not an indication of their health.

The body is usually in a constant state of flux, and varies in its baseline state depending of a number of variables (activity level, presence of injury etc) So chances are there is always something to stretch. To achieve and maintain your optimum flexibility, you should always implement some sort of  regular stretching to keep your baseline flexibility and prevent muscles from getting too tight.

So here are some important questions for you…

Are You Very Flexible?

If you’re more flexible than the average person, you may wonder if you need to keep stretching in order to stay healthy. The general answer to that is yes- you do.

You need to usually maintain your baseline flexibility  and how much work you have to put in to maintain that depends on your activity level and other contributing factors. Also, if you are very flexible, stretching is probably something that you’re very good at. If you still feel tight you probably have an issue that needs more help that regular stretching.

The better question though – is your flexibility a factor in your pain? There are many issues that a change in your flexibility will help, but also many conditions that it will not. To find out the difference, contact us below for a diagnosis and understanding of what will help you.

Are You Very Stiff?

If you are stiffer than the average person, stretching may be painful and difficult for you to do. Once you get too stiff, there are some conditions that get worse due to your joints not having the optimum range of motion they need in order to move well.

For you, getting the right amount of flexibility can be difficult to get on your own. There are tools that can  be used to help, but sometimes to have a lasting improvement in flexibility that will allow your joints to move well, will need some additional help. If you need help, fill out the form below to get a FREE consult how we can help you.

So the takeaway here: The answer to your best you is a balance between your flexibility and stability. If you’re not a gymnast or dancer, don’t go for bending yourself in half – you don’t need it! And if you do need your flexibility like gymnasts or dancers – make sure to strengthen so that you have the stability you need to move without injury.

Check out next week’s blog post that explains more about stability and its importance in keeping you out of pain!

Interested in finding out what you need to get rid of your injuries? Click below to request a free phone consult to get started!!

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Danelle Dickson PT, DPT, OCS

Danelle Dickson PT, DPT, OCS

Physical Therapist at Performance Plus Physical Therapy
Danelle Dickson received her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Morgan State University in 2003, then her Doctorate Degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Delaware in 2007. After graduating, she earned her  Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist Certification in 2012. She is continually increasing her knowledge base with post graduate continuing education from manual based courses such as Institute of Physical Arts and St. Augustine courses. Additionally, she has also presented research at local (APTA) and international (IADMS) conferences on dancers, and has published her research with Journal of Dance Medicine and Science.

Danelle combines her 10+ year of clinical, research, and administrative experience  to produce a well rounded, patient driven experience at Performance Plus Physical Therapy. She currently works with patients with orthopedic, sports and Performing arts conditions, along with taking care of the local dance population, and mentoring local physical therapy students as a clinical instructor.
Danelle Dickson PT, DPT, OCS

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