You might have seen flexible people who can wrap their legs around their heads. Few people are born with such flexible joints, whereas others develop that degree of flexibility. There’s no need to feel bad if you are unable to do it. Flexibility is nothing but the range of motion of your joints, and it depends on the ligaments, tendons, and cartilage.
Your joints will move less freely if you have stiff and unyielding ligaments or tendons. A certain degree of flexibility is essential and beneficial, but beyond that may not always be better. In this article, we will be discussing the factors affecting your flexibility.
What Factors Affect Your Flexibility?
Check out the factors mentioned below that can affect your flexibility.
- Age & Gender
Younger individuals are often more flexible compared to older individuals. This is because people slowly lose their skeletal muscle mass with aging, which is replaced by adipose tissue and fibrous connective tissue. Due to this increase in fibrous connective tissue, individuals who are 65 years and older need to hold static stretches for up to 60 seconds rather than the standard 10-30 seconds.
Unfortunately, this reduced muscle mass also causes reduced physical activity and impaired flexibility. In addition, it is observed that females are often more flexible than males. However, with a properly designed resistance training program, both men and women have successfully increased flexibility.
- Activity Level
Active individuals are usually more flexible compared to more sedentery individuals. This is true for individuals participating in regular flexibility routines and those participating in other physical activities. Participating in strength training regimens and functional activities improves men's and women's flexibility. A study found increased flexibility in previously untrained women with strength training alone. However, the combination of strength and flexibility training affected flexibility to a greater extent. Although physical activity helps achieve better mobility and flexibility compared to untrained individuals, a stretching routine must be incorporated into a fitness program to increase joint motion.
- Quality of Movement
You can experience a positive effect on flexibility with a comprehensive strength training program. However, you can also experience a decreased range of motion with heavy strength training during an exercise.
You must strengthen the agonist and antagonist muscle groups through the full available range of motion to prevent a range of motion loss. The lifting technique can cause the development of under and overactive muscle groups.
- Injury or Dysfunction
An injury usually occurs when you force a muscle or joint beyond its normal active limits. You may suffer from a muscle strain due to the injured musculotendinous unit if your muscle is not having enough elasticity to compensate for the added stretch. For example, short explosive bursts of speed in sports often cause hamstring and hip flexor strains.
A forceful twisting or wrenching of a joint that tears or stretches its ligaments but does not dislocate the bones is called a joint sprain. In such cases, the ligaments are stretched beyond their normal capacity. Ankle sprains often result in a range of motion loss if not managed effectively.
Fibrosis occurs when muscle tissue gets injured or degenerates over time. When fibrous scar tissue replaces muscle fibers, it is called fibrosis. These adhesions can compromise tissue flexibility by forming fibrous tissue if not managed effectively. Furthermore, the injury can affect the body’s ability to function through the kinetic chain.
- Joint Structure
The human body is comprised of different types of joints. Some of them have a greater range of motion or ROM than others. For example, the ball and socket joint in the shoulder has the greatest range of motion of all joints. You can compare your shoulder joint with the hinge joint in your elbow. The former moves in virtually every direction, whereas the latter allows you only to flex and extend.
We hope you’ve understood why some people are so flexible while others suffer stiffness. The factors mentioned above are crucial when it comes to the flexibility of that person.
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