There are a multitude of ways to improve your flexibility and mobility. Here are a few examples:Yoga: “a system of physical postures, breathing techniques, and sometimes meditation derived from Yoga but often practiced independently especially in Western cultures to promote physical and emotional well-being.” -Merriam-Webster Static Stretching: “Static stretching means a stretch is held in a challenging but comfortable position for a period of time, usually somewhere between 10 to 30 seconds. Static stretching is the most common form of stretching found in general fitness and is considered safe and effective for improving overall flexibility.” – HumanKinetics.com SMR (more commonly known as foam rolling): “SMR focuses on the neural and fascial systems in the body that can be negatively influenced by poor posture, repetitive motions, or dysfunctional movements (1). These mechanically stressful actions are recognized as an injury by the body, initiating a repair process called the Cumulative Injury Cycle (Figure 1) (1). This cycle follows a path of inflammation, muscle spasm, and the development of soft tissue adhesions that can lead to altered neuromuscular control and muscle imbalance (1-4). The adhesions reduce the elasticity of the soft tissues and can eventually cause a permanent change in the soft tissue structure, referred to as Davis’s Law. SMR focuses on alleviating these adhesions (also known as “trigger points” or “knots”) to restore optimal muscle motion and function (1,5).” – NASM Deep Tissue work: “Deep tissue massage is a type of massage therapy that focuses on realigning deeper layers of muscles and connective tissue. It is especially helpful for chronic aches and pains and contracted areas such as stiff neck and upper back, low back pain, leg muscle tightness, and sore shoulders.” – Elements Massage Massage: “manipulation of tissues (as by rubbing, kneading, or tapping) with the hand or an instrument for relaxation or therapeutic purposes” – Merriam-Webster Chiropractic: “a system of noninvasive therapy which holds that certain musculoskeletal disorders result from nervous system dysfunction arising from misalignment of the spine and joints and that focuses treatment especially on the manual adjustment or manipulation of the spinal vertebrae.” – Merriam-Webster Joint Mobility: “the degree to which an articulation (where two bones meet) can move before being restricted by surrounding tissues (ligaments/tendons/muscles etc.). Otherwise known as the range of uninhibited movement around a joint.” – AceFitness.org Know this: your body is unique and one of a kind. You may find that you like all of these or you prefer certain movement patterns over others. No matter what, including a regular regimen of these kind of movement patterns, stretches and tissue work can only help.
Benefits of consistent flexibility and mobility:When done properly, stretching can do more than just increase flexibility. According to M. Alter, benefits of stretching include:
- enhanced physical fitness
- enhanced ability to learn and perform skilled movements
- increased mental and physical relaxation
- enhanced development of body awareness
- reduced risk of injury to joints, muscles, and tendons
- decreased muscular soreness
- reduced muscular tension
- increased suppleness due to stimulation of the production of chemicals which lubricate connective tissues
- reduced severity of painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea) in females
Additional source used: M. Alter; MIT Accessed Aug. 14 2019.