My team and I see a number of clients each week who work hard and intensely, want to push their fitness to the next level and perform to the best ability level they can. When it comes to stretching, yoga and pilates, it seems as if there is a lack of interest or a feeling as if these fitness disciplines don't matter. Many people love to skip all things stretching and mind body. For many people it's hard to even consider slowing down enough to get through the more relaxing, less intense classes. Flexibility is hard to come by and something you have to work at equally as hard as you would strength training or cardio training. The flexibility benefit from full body stretching, yoga and pilates can help prevent injury, reduce stress and help improve posture to name a few. Don't leave this key component out of the daily routine.

Flexibility provides the following benefits:

1. Improve Your Athletic Performance
"Flexible joints greatly decrease your risk of injury as they have the ability to move through a greater range of motion and requires less energy to do so," according to Chad Tackett, president of GHF. Flexibility is not only a benefit to the muscle tissue. In this case, it is also a huge factor in range of motion as it affects the connective tissue. Do you play a sport such as golf or tennis? Do you like to dance? Many activities, including the activities of daily living, require twisting or some type of turning. Having flexible joints will help increase your range of motion making these movement easier and pain free.

2. Reduce the Chance of Getting an Injury
"Stretching decreases resistance in tissue structures leaving you less likely to become injured by exceeding tissue extensibility (maximum range of tissues) during activity," says Paul Chek, owner of the Chek Institute. For those of you participating in intense physical conditioning or sports, flexibility should be an essential part of your training program. Getting injured will only push you back further but can be prevented with proper flexibility training. Many specialized techniques have been developed for regular exercisers as well as athletes. Yoga for golf and sports conditioning, PNF stretching and Active Isolated Stretching are just a few of the types of flexibility that can help increase your flexibility when practiced regularly.

3. Reduced Sore and Tired Muscles
Chad Tackett also states that, "studies show that slower, static stretching can help reduce muscle soreness. This type of stretching involves a slow, gradual and controlled elongation of the muscle through the full range of motion. Stretches are held for 15-30 seconds, in the furthest comfortable position (without pain)." There are many different types of stretching including stretching class and yoga that can help accomplish this. Working with a trainer is also a great idea to get the full benefit from slower stretching since often times people like to rush. A trainer or a class can help guide you through the process and help prevent injury.

4. Stand Up Straight - Better Posture
Want to improve your posture? "You can improve muscular balance through stretching which can help your posture. Many people's soft-tissue structures have adapted poorly to either the effects of gravity or poor postural habits," according to Mr. Tackett. Have you ever noticed you sit to one side, don't stand up straight or drop on shoulder? These are all results of muscular imbalance. Do you slump over at your desk each day? Is it hard for you to sit up straight and have proper posture for a prolonged period of time? Stretching can help realign soft tissue structures, thus reducing the effort it takes to achieve and maintain good posture in the activities of daily living.

5. Reduce Your Stress Level
Stretching can also help reduce stress. While reducing muscular and joint pain will contribute a better physical stress, often times stretching routines can be set to soft music and combine breathing techniques to help relax the mind as well. The physical benefits of stress reduction can transfer into your quality of daily life. Feeling less stressed both physically and mentally can greatly improve your overall health and athletic ability.

Author's Bio: 

Margot Rutigliano a freelance writer as well as the owner of Vita Vie Retreat. She has been a fitness trainer, wellness coach and healthy living adviser since 1999. Vita Vie Retreat is a fitness retreat offering healthy lifestyle transformation programs for men and women of all ages and fitness levels. For more information or to contact Ms. Rutigliano, please visit