Joints and Flexibility FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

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Updated: March 24, 2023

Natural flexibility varies from person to person, here are some joints and flexibility FAQs; Common frequently asked questions that may be helpful to you.

While some degree of flexibility is important in performing many asanas and carrying out daily activities, it is important to understand your body and know your limits so that you can avoid injury and take care of your joints. If you are very flexible, it may be best to focus on strengthening rugs.

Yoga has been widely shown to increase flexibility, so a lack of flexibility gives you more reasons to practice.

Joints and Flexibility FAQs

Can I do yoga if I am not flexible?

Yes. Yoga has been widely shown to increase flexibility, so a lack of flexibility gives you all the more reason to practice. If you have limited range of motion (ROM) in the pose because your muscles are tight or you are recovering from an injury, it can be helpful to visualize your body moving deeper into the pose. Research shows that it forms a neural map, which sends signals to muscles that cause follicles to grow. Similarly, research has found that watching yourself perform a pose and get stronger can strengthen your muscles without even moving. 1

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Why do my joints “pop”?

Between the bones in most joints there is synovial fluid, which contains dissolved gas molecules. For example, creating more space in the joint by stretching your thumb pushes the gases out of the liquid, just as a carbonated drink releases bubbles of CO2 when a bottle is opened. The gases re-dissolve in the liquid, and may “pop” again after 20-30 minutes. There’s no evidence to suggest that it causes arthritis, but it can enlarge your joints. If your joints pop without waiting, joint structures can rub against each other. This can gradually damage joint structures.

Is it possible to spread too much?

Yes. There is a connection between hypermobility — the ability to move beyond the normal range, or “double joint” — and chronic joint pain. When you stretch, you should feel a stretch in the middle of the muscles, not near the joints, and you want to be able to breathe easily through the stretch. If you feel sharp or shooting sensations, numbness, pain, or anything that bothers you or stops your breathing, you may be feeling overexcited. Overstretching lengthens your ligaments and/or tendons and since they don’t have much elasticity, they don’t retract well after stretching. In other words, when the stress (load or strain) on the tissue reaches the yield point it ceases to be “elastic” and becomes “plastic” (see above right). In clinical terms, this represents a tear. To avoid injury, it’s best to strike a balance between using your yoga posture practice to improve your strength and using it to improve your flexibility.

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Myth-buster

Hot yoga makes me more flexible. It does, but only in the moment; It doesn’t necessarily matter how flexible you are afterwards. The high temperature increases your metabolic rate, heating your tissue faster so you can stretch deeper. Exercising in hot conditions makes it easier for your muscles to stretch beyond their natural length, which can lead to muscle damage. Come slowly into the pose with awareness to avoid injury.

Sources

  1. Thin-Walled Structures, Volume 114, May 2017, Pages 122-133; Author: Hamid Ahmadi; AliZiaei Nejad; Geometrical effects on the local joint flexibility of two-planar tubular DK-joints in jacket substructure of offshore wind turbines under OPB loading[]

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