How to Get More Flexible

Will being inflexible harm your physical performance or cause injuries? Get-Fit Guy answers a reader question.

Ben Greenfield
4-minute read
Episode #87

Take running, for example. When your foot strikes the ground, your ankle flexes backwards as your body absorbs the impact and your knee bends. When the ankle beings to extend for the toe to push off the ground, the energy stored in your Achilles tendon during the foot planting phase is released. This is called a “stretch shortening” cycle, and the tighter your tendons are, the more explosively they can release that stored energy.

One way to keep tendons tight is to not engage in repeated stretching workouts – which is one reason why sprinters, jumpers, and athletes in other power sports know to be careful with too much flexibility work – stiff tendons create big forces very fast.

But don’t confuse stiffness with the inability to move through a range of motion. These athletes do exercises such as skips, bounds, hops, and swings to ensure that they are able to move their muscles through a range of motion that is what they will experience during their sporting event – but not a range of motion significantly greater than that.

So if you’re getting ready for a run, warming up for weight training, or doing anything other than a relaxing yoga or stretching session, static stretching is not a good way to warm up. However, especially for activities that require improvements in flexibility, such as swimming, gymnastics, or ballet, static stretching can be an effective way to cool down.

Does Inflexibility Cause Injuries?

So can being inflexible to the point where you are unable to move a joint through your desired range of motion cause an injury?



About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.