Flexible man doing yoga

An Exhaustive Guide To The Benefits Of Being Flexible

1. Why is it important to be flexible?

The best way I can describe flexibility is “The ability to mould your body in malleable way that will allow you to shape it back the way you like”. 
One of the main benefits of flexibility is the ability to explore new dimensions that you would not suspect exist. Having practiced dance for many years I have realised that we live in a set of paradigms that are just one small parts of what seems to be an infinity of paradigms. For example, we might live in a reality that we think is the absolute truth of our life. Then realise through chance, encounter or self-realisation that by shifting or expanding our thoughts or actions we can enter a completely different set of paradigms.

1.1. What does that have to do with the benefits of being flexible

Following from the point made above, I realised when I improved the flexibility of my body that I could create more shapes and forms that I thought were impossible for me to achieve. I had in essence shifted from one situation I took as the absolute truth to another set that offered me plenty of opportunities. Whereby I no longer saw limitations but abundance of possibilities. r a stiff bar or a modelling clay. And ask yourself “with which material can I create the shapes that I want?”. In essence that’s what body isolation exercises are there for. To allow you to command your body to do what you want when you desire it. 

1.2. Other benefit of being flexible

One of the other benefits of being flexible is the ability to put “vitality” in every area of your body and even your mind. Just take the following example. Imagine you had a neck injury where your range of mobility was so restricted that you basically could only see what is just in front of you. Then compare that with your ability to move your neck from the left side to the right one in a 180 degree with great ease. Your whole world would change. Flexibility is what infuse vitality into your body to allow you to do what you want. The same goes with your arms. 

🔵 Illustration

I was watching YTuber Dr Beau Hightower handling of a mix martial art athlete. For all of his power this athlete had real difficulties raising his arms up. He felt so relieve that he could lift them up to 60% of their capabilities that he thanked the doctor. Meanwhile, I was smiling that I could almost touch my ears with my arms and make both forearms touch each other’s. That comes to illustrate perfectly the limitation one can have if they are not flexible versus the benefits of being flexible. 

1.3. The alternative: Not being flexible

Many athletes prioritise strength over flexibility until they have a major injury that forces them to take baby walks and teach them how to handle their body. Why wait that some avoidable injuries force us out of our practice when there is a ready solution with flexibility.

🔵 Try that experiment

Seat all day on a chair either watching tv or using the computer. After few hours, get-up and stretch your leg as straight as you can in front of you, then retract the lower leg forming a 90° angle with the tight. Do that for a few times. At first, you will feel some pain as you shifted “paradigm” from the “dead” state in which you were in for many hours, to the new state where you injected “life” into your legs. Then after a while, you will start feeling the entirety of your leg getting tensed with vitality. This little experiment perfectly illustrates the benefits of being flexible versus the inflexible reality. Moreover, if you factor in that people tend to seat for many hours but refuse to stretch, then you understand how your body start accumulate disease that will turn into full health risk at some point. 

2. Is it good to be flexible?

Flexibility induces heat into your body, challenges your breathing and therefore help with the overall health of your body. It is therefore absolutely necessary to be flexible in order to avoid injuries. However, flexibility is not about contortion of your body. That’s one of the biggest traps into which people fall. Especially as they want to push themselves. If you must be out of practice for months or years, you are not practicing flexibility but something else. 

2.1. Heat into your body

DO NOT start any stretches if you are cold. That’s a tricky one since one might ask “well how to heat-up safely”. Fortunately, I have created a best practice example for you to adopt and that will work whether you do yoga, go for run, dance, or do any other sports. It’s a body isolation exercise that increases as the tempo of the music does. For dancers it’s great to learn rhythm and get a very loose body. For other activities it helps avoid all minor injuries that prevent people from doing what they like. Put another way: I have done this for more than 12 years almost every day. And my body has rewarded me by allowing me to do what I love. I know of other professional dancers who don’t have such routines and end-up constantly at a specialist office. Your choice.

Benefits of flexibility

2.2. Other benefits of being flexible: Challenge your breathing

When I studied yoga in India, I realised that you could almost correlate breathing patterns and level of flexibility. The ones with good flexibility were almost noiseless while those with tone of uneducated muscles had uneven and heavy breathing patterns. It is not just that your breathing ameliorates as your flexibility does. It’s also that your attitude to challenges changes completely. You feel less tired even if you practice a very demanding physical activity; because in turn you have learned how to calm down your breathing pattern. This leads to another benefit which is your ability to handle matter handle stressful situation better.

Benefits of flexibility on breathing patterns

3. How do beginners get flexible?

In order to get flexibility when you are just starting you need to first take into consideration your age, physical health and the state of your physical conditioning. You will not be able to work on say your neck flexibility if you had serious neck injuries. So, once you consider where you are at physically, you can then move toward your first batch of flexibility exercise. As I pointed out previously, to enjoy the benefits of flexibility you must approach the practice gradually in a step-by-step way.

3.1. Heat into your body

On my article on flexibility for beginners, I provide a proper way to approach the practice. You should first work on every little parts of your body in a functional way. As time lapses you increase the speed of your body movement. This is a secret I give away to everyone but that most people want to put aside. And I just don’t know why that is. I know the benefits these simple exercises have had for me and my dance partner of many years in avoiding injuries, getting a proper and full work-out. So, don’t overlook these simple body isolation exercises. As a matter of fact, you will probably find them more challenging that what they look like. This step 1 by itself can be a practice beginners can do, as I work on the flexibility of the arms, shoulder blades, hamstrings, back, hips along with the isolation of our body. 

3.2. Increased Flexibility exercises

If you felt that step 1 was not too challenging, you can move to step 2. If you complete this stage, you are not really a beginner. In fact, you should find this part challenging. If on the other hand you find these stetches challenging its completely normal. They take time and practice to master, but you can start by doing them slowly. The point is to gradually allow your body, through repetitive practice, to get you there. Along the way, you will realise that your breathing is put under a certain form of stress. You will feel like you want to breath faster and heavily as the discomfort seeks in. That’s completely normal and what you should do is try and relax your breathing. 

3.3. Breathing

A complete flexibility workout should be followed by some breathing exercises if you want to enjoy the full benefits of being flexible. Breathing is like inducing flexibility into your flexibility routine. It allows you to recover (which is the most important if you want to practice regularly). Moreover, breathing helps you reset your mind in the right direction especially if you are having to undertake a completely different set of tasks. You can check the following video by Baba Ramdev. These breathing exercises kept diseases away from me.

4. Is being too flexible bad?

One of the main misconceptions about flexibility is that many people believe they should be able to twist their bodies in indescribable positions in order to enjoy the benefits of flexibility. That is completely wrong. And this is due to the fact that many people who advertise “How to achieve the split in 5-10 minutes” don’t tell you that they’ve been practicing for years if not decades. Furthermore, they do not tell you about the injuries that await them at the corner. It might be worthwhile for you to check out this video on the issue.

4.1. The old wooden stick vs the bamboo 

A good way to describe the issue is to imagine the following: You take a hard stick and try to bend it all the way so both ends can touch each other. The likely result is that this piece of wood will break. If on the other hand you take a young bamboo branch both ends will probably be able to meet. Which tree do you think the people who bend effortlessly are? And what tree represents you, if you have not paid attention to flexibility in your life before?
It is therefore very important to approach flexibility and stretches the way you would approach a sharp knife. It can either cut things for you or cut you. So, be gradual, don’t try to force things out and DO NOT TRY TO IMITATE OTHERS. 

5. 5 benefits of being flexible

5 benefits of being flexible

5.1. Prevent Injuries

One of the key reasons why we work on our flexibility is to help prevent injuries accruing from strong physical efforts. It’s also a way to keep the elasticity of our body so we have a full range of motion.

5.2. Eliminate Dormant Illnesses

One of the other benefits of being flexible is that though your body’s vitality you can make sure certain types of illnesses do not get into your body. For example, like the back and spine issues you can developed from prolonged sitting. If you are in an office, find few minutes where you can do my full flexibility workout. It will straighten your spine, won’t be too overwhelming and will do wonder to your body.

5.2. Eliminate Dormant Illnesses

One of the other benefits of being flexible is that though your body’s vitality you can make sure certain types of illnesses do not get into your body. For example, like the back and spine issues you can developed from prolonged sitting. If you are in an office, find few minutes where you can do my full flexibility workout. It will straighten your spine, won’t be too overwhelming and will do wonder to your body.

5.3. Allows Progress in Practices through regularity

One of the reasons I got fascinated with flexibility is because I wanted to be able to do what I love every day. I realised that it was not really the intensity of the efforts that mattered but the repetition that would in turn sink into my brain and body. Beside flexibility is even more important if your physical activities are intense and you want to do them every day. Therefore, flexibility is the TOOL along with rest that will allow you to practice regularly.

5.4. Boost Immune System

Flexibility is not just the ability to touch the floor when you bend. It’s the alignment between your physical body and breathing. Once you start doing flexibility exercises, your body will naturally try to regulate your breathing. This is turn will push you to discover different breathing techniques; which will have the benefits of preventing some health diseases.

5.5. Regulate your Breathing

I mentioned it above, but when you do flexibility exercises your breathing gets challenged. Your mind in turn get challenged. And your breathing patterns become irregular, fast and aggressive. Once you start slowing down your breathing, you will realise that your flexibility exercises get easier. And the more you regulate your breathing the more you gain in flexibility.

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