Hey! I hope you’re having a great day!
When we hear the word “flexible” it’s not uncommon to think of people that almost seem to be made of rubber. I’m sure you’ve seen circus performers bending their bodies into pretzel shapes or gymnasts doing splits or small children putting their legs behind their heads like its nothing. Although most of us would never aspire to move that way, most of us eventually get to a point where we realize that improving or maintaining flexibility is important.
As we age, flexibility can often diminish and for many people it can negatively affect physical performance and even quality of life. This subject is very misunderstood and under taught and most people still falsely assume that it is a part of aging that cannot be changed. Let me explain why that is not the case and what needs to be done to improve or maintain your flexibility.
As we get older it is common for our physical activities become more and more monotonous. We develop and maintain routines that don’t often change a whole lot and because of this we tend to only move our joints into certain positions and not into others. This causes our muscles to lose elasticity in certain directions.
For example, take both arms right now and raise them up as high as you can so they are in line with your head. Hold them there for a few seconds. How often do you have to do that in your normal life activities? I’m willing to bet not often. This is one of many examples of movements that often become harder to do as we age and it is largely due to simply not “visiting the position” on a consistent basis.
Or how about this- try rotating your body (head included) all the way to the right and then all way to the left, holding for a few seconds each. Do you feel any tightness or restriction when you do that? Again, this is an example of something that we simply don’t do a lot of and it can therefore become harder over time.
I could give you dozens of examples of this same principle but the take home message is the same no matter which part of the body we are talking about- we must visit all available body positions on a consistent basis in order to maintain or improve our ability to move in those directions as we get older. Unfortunately there is no way around this.
This principle also works in the reverse. Think of positions you are in a lot, like the seated position for instance. When we sit, our back and shoulders are usually rounded forward. Take a look around at people next time you’re out in public and you’ll notice a great many of them have rounded shoulders and backs even while standing and walking. This means that we will gravitate towards the positions that we are in the most and those will become our new normal.
So in short, in order to maintain flexibility visit the various body positions you have frequently and try to avoid staying in the same position for too long or being there too often.
To help you with this, I’ve recorded a video that shows you a safe and effective way to stretch for optimal flexibility. Unfortunately, the ways most people stretch are actually dangerous and could lead to orthopedic problems. This video explains the difference and shows you an easy routine that you can do on a regular basis.
Click on the screen image below to watch the video.