It’s Not Just Stretching: Two Things You Might Not Know About Flexibility

 

Whenever someone says, “I want to be more flexible,” they’re usually thinking:

 

“I’d love to be able to touch my toes.”

“I can’t check my blind spot without turning all the way around.”

“Everything hurts.”

“I feel so TIGHT all the time.”

 

Most people think the solution is to stretch more. Start a yoga practice, maybe.

 

Which is great, of course. But there’s more to flexibility than stretching.

 

What you think of as being “flexible” – moving around easily, picking things up off the floor without creaking like your grandfather – is actually a range of motion issue.

 

There are two main things you can do to increase your range of motion (R.O.M.) — that have nothing to do with stretching.

 

1.  Move your joints. Stiffness in your joints can result from dehydration, too much sitting (or standing) in the same position, arthritis, and inflammation.

 

To address inflammation, look into an anti-inflammatory diet. Reducing your sugar intake helps a LOT, and identifying food sensitivity can make a huge difference as well.

 

When you exercise, try a series of dynamic stretches and joint mobility exercises. The point is to take your joints through their full range of motion, over and over again. This produces synovial fluid, which is a joint lubricant (think Tin Man/oil can). The more you move your joints, the more synovial fluid you’ll produce regularly, thus increasing your overall range of motion over time.

 

2.  Release your fascia. (Say what now?) Fascia is like a web surrounding each muscle. Unlike muscle fibers, it doesn’t have elasticity – meaning, it doesn’t contract and relax. Once it tightens up, it pretty much stays that way.

 

You may (or may not) have heard the term self myofascial release, which is a fancy term for foam rolling. Using a dense foam cylinder, you roll your muscles like a rolling pin, holding the extra-tender spots until they dissipate.

 

Therapy_Ball_PLUS_WebYou can achieve the same result with…balls! Racquet balls, lacrosse balls, and these Yoga-Tune-Up balls work really well for the nooks and crannies a foam roller can’t get.

 

This September, I’m starting a series of Pop-Up classes specifically addressing range of motion. We’ll roll around on some balls, find your trigger points, and loosen up all those tight, sticky places.

 

The first one is all about shoulders, on September 2nd at 12:15 PM. We’re lovin’ up the shoulders! Register HERE.

 

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Loosen Up!

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Written by Sam

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