Raggedy Ann was flexible. And she had no joints.
Being flexible is not as useful or healthful, as being strong. Raggedy Ann was very limber. She also lacked a spine, knees and hip joints. Muscle moves our joints within their proper range. While flexibility of muscle will certainly allow movement to happen more freely, stability and safety of joint movements are the first priority.
Is stretching the answer?
When we talk about stretching we are talking about “muscle”. Unlike bones, ligaments, and tendons, muscles are made up primarily of elastic tissue. The more muscle fibre you build, therefore, the more spring potential you will have available. Before stretching (or over-stretching) unused or atrophied muscle, consider strengthening muscle instead.
When stiffness leads to pain
Back pain, hip, and even knee pain are often a result of long periods of sitting, whereby the hip flexors, pectorals, anterior deltoids, and hamstrings become stiff. They get locked in a constantly flexed position, pulling the body into an ape-like posture. Stretching as a way to fix the problem is only half the answer. Strengthening the extensor muscles – the back and butt – is the way to counteract this perpetual state of imbalance. Without strengthening the under-used muscles, you will only stretch the opposing ones temporarily, before they return back to the same position as before.
You want spring over stretch
Have you ever tried to fling an over-stretched, flimsy elastic that has no spring to it? It doesn’t go anywhere, just pathetically flops down, a foot in front of you. Your muscles are the same. If you want to have some spring – which you do – then you also want to build some strength. A body made of strong elastic, will be resilient, protective, and mobile. Thin flabby elastic will neither hold things together nor move very far.
Raggedy Ann may have been limber, but she was flabby, flimsy, and forever flopping forward…