Flexibility and Mobility As You Age
By Lauren Kirkwood, Exercise Physiologist
We hear people talk about the importance of strength and cardio, but have you heard about the benefits of flexibility training?
Flexibility is a primary fitness component but isn’t always prioritised. While not everyone sees the value in sitting on a mat and stretching, there are plenty of reasons for you to include flexibility and mobility exercises.
After releasing a static (still) stretch, blood flow is increased to the muscles you were stretching. This use of stretching helps manage muscle soreness by moving nutrients around the muscles you’ve been working in exercises to assist in recovery and cell regeneration!
Improves mental health and quality of life
The benefits of flexibility and mobility also extend to mental health! Research shows that Tai-Chi and Yoga can improve quality of life, which in turn promotes positive self-esteem and contributes to improvements in mental health!
Improves performance and posture
Flexibility and mobility exercises improve the way our joints move through their range of motion and will create more stability in your joints. Slow movement activities such as yoga, Tai Chi, and Pilates are great examples, and can also help improve posture!
Helps to manage chronic pain and stiffness
When mobility exercises are paired with thermotherapy (e.g. heat pack), research has shown a positive impact on chronic low back pain. Additionally, as mobility improves muscle length, it is beneficial for individuals who are sitting still for long periods (e.g. office workers).
Creates greater awareness of body strengths and imbalances
For most people, it is common to be stronger or more flexible on one side of your body. Focusing on mobility and flexibility is a great way to find where the imbalances are and to try even them up! This will reduce likelihood of injury as your muscles will work more effectively.
What exercises can I do?
To work on improving flexibility and mobility, aim for 2-3 sessions a week. There are different types of stretches you can do. Static stretches are when muscles are extended and held for a certain time (e.g. butterfly stretch). Dynamic stretches assist to get your body moving and are not held for any time (e.g. lunges). If you complete more intense activities, dynamic stretching can help with muscle flexibility in preparation for exercise, and static stretching in recovery.
If you aren’t sure where to start, try a guided mobility routine. Get Active Victoria offers a range of stretching videos to try.
If you’re feeling out of your depth, don’t be afraid to ask for help! Contacting an Accredited Exercise Physiologist can be the first step to a more nimble and agile you. To find an Accredited Exercise Physiologist near you, click here.
- Noradechanunt C, Worsley A, Groeller H. Thai Yog improves physical function and well-being in older adults: a randomised controlled trial. JSAMS. 2016:20(5):494-501. doi:10.1016/j.jsams.2016.10.007
- Freiwald J, Hoppe MW, Beermann W, Krajewski J, Baumgart C. Effects of supplemental heat therapy in multimodal treated chronic low back pain in patients on strength and flexibility. Clin Biomech. 2018:57:107-113. doi:10.1016/j.clinbiomech.2018.06.008
- Page P. Current concepts in muscle strengthening for exercise and rehabilitation. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2012:7(1):109-119. Accessed June 2022. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3273886/
Last updated: April 5, 2023 at: 1:08 pm