The first thing to note is that there are many different definitions of what it means to be flexible. Some say being flexible refers only to your ability to bend your knees, while others would include other body parts such as ankles and feet. Still others define flexibility as the range of motion in all joints, not just those involved with walking or standing up from a chair.
Genetic Flexibility Definition:
A person’s ability to move their joints through various ranges of motion depends on genetics. There are two main types of genes that influence flexibility; either they determine whether someone is genetically inclined toward being flexible or not, or if they do have the capacity to become flexible, then how much flexibility they will possess.
Both types of genes play a role in determining one’s level of flexibility.
One type of gene determines whether a person is genetically inclined toward being flexible or not. These genes are known as “muscular” genes because they tend to make muscles larger and stronger.
A person whose muscle mass tends to increase over time (i.e., who grows taller) may develop greater flexibility due to increased strength in their bones and muscles. Conversely, a person whose muscle mass decreases over time (i.e. who grows shorter with age) may become less flexible because their muscles are weakening.
The other type of gene that affects flexibility is responsible for a person’s general range of motion. These genes allow an individual to move their joints through a greater range of motion than other people.
The more of these genes an individual has, the greater range of motion he or she has at any given joint. This is why some people naturally have more flexible joints.
Is flexibility inherited?
Yes, flexibility is a genetic trait that appears to be inherited from parents to children. All people inherit genes that control how flexible they are. Some people are simply born with genes that make them more flexible than others. Also, some people are naturally flexible due to their particular physiology. For example, dancers tend to be more flexible than non-dancers, simply because human beings are naturally designed to move in a wider variety of ways than most people realize.
The general rule is that the more joints a person has and the more degrees of freedom a person’s body parts have, the more flexible that person tends to be. This is because people with flexibility genes are able to move their bodies through a greater range of motion.
Does flexibility matter?
Although flexibility may be a genetically inherited trait, it can still be important in several different ways. For instance, in some sports flexibility is an important quality because it increases the range of motion of certain joints and body parts. Since human beings were naturally designed to move their bodies in a wider variety of ways than most people realize, flexibility is important to sports such as gymnastics and ice skating where people have to move their bodies through extreme ranges of motion.
If you’re involved in any sport where flexibility is important, then you may want to work on your flexibility in order to improve your abilities. Just realize that most sports do not require extreme range of motion at any joints or body parts, so having too much flexibility might actually interfere with the way you participate in certain activities.
For example, gymnasts have very flexible joints, but runners do not.
In addition to sports, flexibility can also be important for everyday life. For example, people with naturally flexible joints are less prone to injury because their tendons and other connective tissues do not get as stretched out.
In other words, flexible people are less likely to incur small tears in their muscles or experience strains in their tendons simply because they can move their body through a greater range of motion without straining any part of their bodies.
How can one improve flexibility?
There are many different types of stretching exercises that can improve flexibility. The best way to improve flexibility is to stretch on a regular basis for several minutes at a time. It’s best to hold each stretch for 10 to 30 seconds and repeat the process 2 to 4 times for best results.
There are several different types of stretches that can be performed. Some are better than others, and some are easier to perform than others.
It’s best to learn from a qualified instructor before starting any stretching routine so that you can get the most out of the process as possible.
The primary rule of stretching is: stop when you feel pain! Never stretch until you feel pain because this can cause damage to your muscles, tendons, and other connective tissues.
However, if you feel slight tension but no pain, then keep stretching–once you reach the point where you feel slight pain, hold the position for a few seconds and then relax. Perform this routine several times (10-30 seconds each time) and then move on to another stretch.
As your muscles become more pliable, you will experience less pain and be able to stretch further. However, you should never push past the previous limit of stretching until the feeling of slight pain returns.
This is the best way to prevent injury and allow your body to enjoy the benefits of flexibility training.
Some people decide to use tools such as weights, bands, or machines in order to improve their flexibility. Although these can be helpful tools for improving flexibility, they are no substitute for proper warm up and stretching programs.
Before engaging in any type of strenuous physical activity, it’s best to warm up by slowly raising your heart rate and moving the major body parts. Following this routine with several minutes of stretching is an excellent way to prepare your body for exercise and prevent injury.
It is important to check with a medical professional before starting any new exercise routine because you may have an existing condition, such as a back problem, that can cause complications with flexibility training. In addition, if you suffer from certain types of arthritis, hypertension, or other conditions, your doctor may recommend specific routines designed just for your needs.
Never perform flexibility exercises before or after engaging in strenuous cardiovascular exercise because your muscles will be tired and less able to perform the types of movements required for flexibility exercises. In addition, you may experience pain in your muscles or joints that could be mistaken for a sign that you should stop.
Sources & references used in this article:
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Real-time strategy game training: emergence of a cognitive flexibility trait by BD Glass, WT Maddox, BC Love – PloS one, 2013 – journals.plos.org
Gene prioritization through genomic data fusion by S Aerts, D Lambrechts, S Maity, P Van Loo… – Nature …, 2006 – nature.com