If you are a seasoned yogi or just someone who’s dabbled in it, you must have heard of the ‘bend don’t break’ dictum.
Besides being the mantra for mental strength, the idea also applies to physical strength and flexibility that protects the body against potential injuries.
However, before you embark on to your ever-ongoing quest for flexibility, it is easy to become sidetracked by certain misconceptions and myths that can hamper and just downright destroy your motivation to train your flexibility.
Sport360 caught up with aerialist and flexibility instructor at Pole Fit Dubai, Anna Lyapunova, to help bust some of these myths.
Flexibility is genetic
While it is true that some people naturally do have an advantage when it comes to flexibility, it does not mean that with proper training and guidance, you cannot achieve the same results.
“Flexibility has a lot to do with genetics. Some people are naturally bendy and some become flexible over a short time, which may be an indicator that they always had a genetic advantage that they probably weren’t aware of,” said Lyapunova.
“However, if you don’t train and exercise regularly, you can lose this advantage. With practice and regular exercises, anyone can become flexible. It’s all about dedication and how much you’re willing to push yourself.”
Therefore, flexibility is as much genetic as it is acquired and even people with an innate advantage can become inflexible over time if they do not stretch and exercise regularly.
Flexibility is only for the young
It is not just the most common myths, but also an incredible common excuse used by people to weasel out of flexibility training.
Our bodies do tend to get stiffer as we age and couple that up with a sedentary lifestyle; the muscles quickly lose their range of motion, which takes time and patience to recover.
“It is harder to get flexible at an older age, but not impossible,” says Lyapunova, “with the right kind of exercises and frequent training, anyone can get flexible. However, patience is required as regaining flexibility may take longer than it would for a child or a teenager.”
Gaining muscle mass is better than getting flexible
This particular myth is usually associated with people who seem like they are in the pink of physical fitness, but can’t touch their toes even if their lives depended on it.
Weight-training and gaining muscle mass are important parts of a fitness routine, but flexibility training shouldn’t be neglected for the sake of muscle gain.
“In my opinion, one cannot exist without the other and a balanced fitness regime should incorporate both flexibility and strength training.
Lyapunova insists that stretching keeps your muscles supple and stimulates the growth of new muscle fibres.
Moreover, the more range of motion your muscles have, the more mass you can build over time.
And as mentioned earlier, flexibility training allows you to go through your regular training regime with a lower risk of injury.
The more you stretch, the more flexible you become
Just like all exercises, flexibility training should also be done in moderation.
While regular stretching is necessary to build flexibility, overdoing it can lead to severe damage to the surrounding tissues that can have an irreversible impact on the joints.
Therefore, getting rest is vital!
You have to give your muscles a break and the time to recover.
Lyapunova stresses the importance of patience and listening to your body to achieve flexibility goals, but it is a principle that can be applied to pretty much everything in life too.
So, here are all the myths associated with flexibility training.
In a time, when the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted most areas of our lives and society, we can all use this opportunity to explore various aspects of our fitness and deepen our understanding of the ‘bend don’t break’ philosophy.
Pole Fit Dubai is currently offering online flexible lessons. To learn more about it log on to their website by clicking here and to stay up to date with Anna Lyapunova, follow her on @Lyapunova_Anna on Instagram.