Of all the questions STACK receives from its readers and viewers, one of the most common is: “How do I improve my flexibility?”
Active warm-ups and post-activity stretching may be the least burdensome parts of training, but enhancing your flexibility is no simple task. In fact, it is one of the most complex training goals to achieve. Quite frankly, there has been no easy answer. Until now.
According to Stretch to Win Center co-founder Ann Frederick, “[Water] is the single biggest factor to increasing flexibility from something you can take into your system. Forget foods, forget supplements; water is it.”
In addition to regulating body temperature and acting as a cushion for tissues and organs, water helps transport oxygen and absorbs heat from the muscles. Frederick says, “The fascia layer [connective tissue surrounding the muscles] is supposed to glide across the muscular layer, but when the fascia tissue is dehydrated, it sticks [to the muscular layer].” The result: decreased range of motion, and, hence, an inflexible athlete.
Your water needs depend on several factors, including your overall health, level of activity and where you live. According to performance nutritionist Megan Mangano, the recommended daily fluid intake for athletes is a half to one ounce per pound of bodyweight. So if you weigh 150 pounds, you should consume 75 to 150 ounces of fluid per day. If you’ve lost weight during a training session, you must also consume fluid to replace that weight. For every pound you lose, drink approximately 20 ounces of fluid.