by admin

June 15, 2022

People come to Pilates for many different reasons. Wanting to improve their flexibility is a common one. ‘How I Can Become More Flexible’ has been a popular Google search since Pilates (and yoga) became mainstream decades ago. 

Good flexibility is a great thing and so is wanting to improve your flexibility. The better the range of motion your joints allow – how much “give” in the ligaments, tendons and cartilage – the more freely (and pain-free) we can move and the less likely we are to get injured from other exercise and activities.

Factors That Determine How Flexible We Are

We are all shaped and proportioned differently and there are a few factors that determine how flexible we are to begin and how flexible we can potentially become.

Activeness

Aside from consistent and varied exercise, we need to be moving regularly if we want to improve flexibility. This means taking breaks from sitting every 30 minutes with a 5-minute walk around and/or stretch. You’re going to feel it if you sit for 8 hours straight and come to class, and it will take longer for your flexibility to improve.

Genetics

We are all shaped and proportioned differently depending on our genes. Joint structure, bone density, tendon and ligament quality are also inherited like other traits and characteristics. 

Age

Our body degenerates over time including the connective tissue that supports joints and muscles, causing tightness. Most of us are quite flexible as children and we were definitely more flexible than we are now. 

Gender

Males are athletically superior and stronger however females are naturally more flexible. Studies say women’s reproductive hormones, a higher stretch tolerance and a greater anaerobic function (more oxygen getting to the muscles) are factors. Men’s larger muscle mass and a preference for sports and weight training affect their flexibility too.

“In evaluating one’s flexibility and formulating a flexibility training program, one must consider not only the benefits of increased flexibility but also the potential for injury and impairment of function and performance if training occurs under suboptimal conditions.”Michael J. Alter author Science of Flexibility

Flexibility’s Connection to Overall Vitality 

Flexibility is associated with mobility ease, good posture, sound muscle coordination and less risk of injuries and post-activity soreness. It’s why the toe touch test is considered an accurate, reliable, and valid indicator of flexibility as it also includes the above-mentioned factors to rate an assessment.

Happy hips and hamstrings help! Western society is notoriously sedentary with office work and Netflix culture, which has created an endemic of tight hips and hamstrings. This can often be the source of not only inflexibility but issues with the neck, back, knees and ankles. The comprehensiveness of a Pilates routine addresses these muscle areas, along with the calves and lower back that are needed to reach your toes – and achieve good overall flexibility.

Pilates differs from regular stretching or Yoga because it focuses on stabilisation and supported movement for neutral postural alignment. It creates space for muscles to lengthen and expand, as opposed to holding and/or balancing for an extended amount of time.

A Balanced Mindset Toward Our Flexibility 

Every day is different and so will be your movement range. Stress, too much or too little activity, illness, and energy levels all play a role. 

Awareness is key. Move with complete attention to your body. Take your time with transitions. As is consistency. You’ll be amazed at how Pilates 3 to 5 times a week will change your world.

Take care if you are nursing an injury and if you’ve had one in the past. Pushing our bodies too hard can trigger a flare-up.

Be kind to your body however it shows up each day.

So, can Pilates make you more flexible?

Of course! But these are the considerations. Come and talk to any of our instructors with any questions or concerns. We’re here to support you in what’s possible with your body through Village Pilates practice.

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