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Are flexibility or stretching classes worth it?

4 things to consider: personal goals, prior knowledge and experience, time and commitment, and budget.

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Sapphire Ng | guitarist, dancer, model and pioneer of Contortion Guitar 

Have you been repeatedly told that having greater flexibility will bring about better health outcomes?

Are you an overachiever living a hectic lifestyle, but your body is crying out for more loving care and attention?

Or perhaps you are an athlete looking to gain greater flexibility and mobility to better sports performance?

Or are you simply just tired of living in a stiff body with limited range of motion?


So are flexibility or stretching classes worth it?


Here are 4 things to consider:


1. What are your personal goals?


Only you will know whether having greater flexibility, mobility and range of motion, and their associated benefits, is truly important to you.


Will your quality of life and self-esteem improve?

Is your lack of mobility and range of motion hampering sports performance?

Will you feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction from achieving certain flexibility milestones?

Are you an aspiring athlete, dancer or contortionist?


Flexibility training plays an important role in injury prevention, in improving range of motion (ROM) and in keeping muscles supple.

Stretching, via the lengthening of muscles, increases the extensibility of muscles and decreases muscle stiffness. This in turn increases fluidity and ease in the execution of movements, and increases overall performance.


2. Do you have prior knowledge and experience, or expertise, in flexibility training and safe and effective stretching techniques?


If your answer is no, then flexibility or stretching classes will save you hours and even years of wasted time and effort, of minimal or submaximal gains, and worse, even injuries (chronic or long-term).

The implementation of a flexibility training program requires professional expertise. Only experienced coaches and practitioners are able to guide you systematically and progressively through safe and effective stretching techniques, and most importantly, educate you on the utmost importance of warm-ups to flexibility training and instill in you the habit of proper warm-ups.

Attempting to stretch without proper supervision, you could end up skimping on the most essential warm-up (which many do), or utilizing wrong stretching techniques such as the ballistic stretching style, which at its worst, could severely injure areas such as the lower back.

Strength and conditioning is also indispensable to flexibility training. Only under appropriate guidance can you learn ways to properly strengthen and lengthen muscles at the same time.


3. Can you make a commitment?


Flexibility, unfortunately, is not something that can be attained overnight, in contrast to the proliferation of stretching ‘practitioners’ advertising quick fixes such as ‘How to get the splits in a day!’ While instant results are not realistic, real results can be obtained through commitment, hard work, effort and consistency.

The science of physical body adaptations to training overload in strength training indicates a requisite minimum period of 2 to 3 months of persistent muscle overload for any physical adaptation to occur. Flexibility is no different. Consider also that for every new skill you will learn, muscle memory will take time to build.

Whilst starting flexibility training younger is always an advantage, no matter if you are starting as a child, an adolescent or as an adult, persistence and consistency will always be imperative in the process.


Can you commit yourself to flexibility training at least once a week for 2 to 3 months?


Bear in mind that this doesn’t take into account the commitment required to maintain your flexibility once attained, and the inevitable loss of flexibility, strength or physical adaptation from any subsequent detraining.


Flexibility requires a lifelong commitment.


4. Budget


Flexibility or stretching classes are not free, neither is hiring an experienced flexibility coach. It is however up to you to decide if a healthier and more supple body, and learning a lifelong technique, approach and mentality to flexibility training would be worth the investment.


Conclusion


Flexibility is a lifelong commitment and a way of life.


Are you ready to reap the benefits and take the first (and hardest) step to change your life for the better?


Sapphire Ng

Sapphire Ng is a guitarist, dancer, model and pioneer of Contortion Guitar, an original and distinctive performance act which unites acrobatics and contortion with guitar playing.

She is also a 2-time scholarship winner, having graduated with a second class honours with upper division for her Bachelor of Laws, Law LLB at Queen Mary University of London in the UK, and also with a Summa Cum Laude for her Bachelor of Music in Music Business and Management degree at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, USA.

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