Research shows that while we naturally lose a little bit of flexibility as we get older, we still maintain the ability to improve our flexibility by exercising regularly.
This age-related decrease in flexibility happens for a few reasons, including a loss of elasticity in muscles and tendons, loss of water in soft tissues and intervertebral discs, and increased stiffness in joints.
Although disused muscles and joints can become still or sore at any age, if we want to counteract the loss of flexibility brought on by the ageing process, it’s important that we do what we can to stay supple.
Experts have also found connections between flexibility and balance, and say that having adequate flexibility in joints such as our ankles, knees, and hips can reduce the risk of us falling as we get older.
In addition, increased flexibility can also support strength training by helping to improve form and technique. Like flexibility and balance, building and maintaining muscle strength is another hugely effective way of preventing falls as we get older, and can boost overall longevity. During a long-term study of 3,600 people over the age of 55, participants with greater levels of muscle mass stayed healthier and lived longer.
There currently isn’t enough evidence to suggest that having increased flexibility can prevent arthritis from developing, but regular stretching can help to relieve symptoms associated with it such as pain, swelling, and stiffness.