Flexibility or limberness refers to the absolute range of movement in a joint or series of joints, and length in muscles that cross the joints. Flexibility is variable between individuals, particularly in terms of differences in muscle length of multi-joint muscles. Flexibility in some joints can be increased to a certain degree by exercise, with stretching a common exercise component to maintain or improve flexibility.
Quality of life is enhanced by improving and maintaining a good range of motion in the joints. Overall flexibility should be developed with specific joint range of motion needs in mind as the individual joints vary from one to another. Loss of flexibility can be a predisposing factor for physical issues such as pain syndromes or balance disorders.
Gender, age, and genetics are important for range of motion. Exercise including stretching often improves flexibility.
Many factors are taken into account when establishing personal flexibility: joint structure, ligaments, tendons, muscles, skin, tissue injury, fat (or adipose) tissue, body temperature, activity level, age and gender all influence an individual’s range of motion about a joint.
Individual body flexibility level is measured and calculated by performing a sit and reach test, where the result is defined as personal flexibility score.
Flexibility is improved by stretching. Stretching should only be started when muscles are warm and the body temperature is raised. To be effective while stretching, force applied to the body must be held just beyond a feeling of pain and needs to be held for at least ten seconds. If held too long, the muscle will become too loose and stretchy. Increasing the range of motion creates good posture and develops proficient performance in everyday activities increasing the length of life and overall health of the individual.
You can check out videos on flexibility exercises here.