Can you touch your toes? For me, flexibility, mobility and feeling good in my own body/ in every day movement patterns is so important to maintain. It’s something that can be improved however, you do need to make an effort to do some of the right stuff.
Some people are naturally quite flexible and can jump into the splits after some time of inactivity, in the genes perhaps. Others, struggle to reach down and touch the knees/shins, for me, I have always enjoyed the feeling of being mobile and flexible – ‘love a stretch’!
If you are coming from a period of inactivity, lack of flexibility, my first bit of advice would be to work on that in your day to day life. Think about moving more – squatting down to pick something up, side lunging, taking the stairs or if you already do, take 2 steps instead of 1, condition your body to more movement. Below, I have written my top tips to effectively be a little more supple..
- First of all, prior to any workout you do, or even first thing in the morning when you wake up….wake your body up, with some dynamic movements/mobility flows – if you want some inspo, there is a video on my YouTube channel Move With Ben . This will ensure that you are going into your day feeling good and also that you have fully mobilised your body prior to training. In turn, this can help with your flexibility/day to day movement.
- Roll roll roll – add a regular foam rolling session into your routine. You can use a foam roller whenever you like, there is no right or wrong – you can use before, after you train, on a rest day – you get the picture. This is also known as self myofascial release (a little like a self massage) – the idea is to break up knots and any tightness you may have which can restrict movement. Another benefit is that it can also help to aid recovery and improve blood flow. Better movement wins – here is a link to a follow along Foam Rolling video.
- Spend 10 minutes to stretch after you train . I guess this is the obvious one! Aim to hold static stretches after you train for a little longer with the focus of relaxing into the stretch. Take a deep breath and as you exhale, look to go a little further into the stretch. Breathing correctly can really help to develop flexibility and life in general! This will also help to get your muscles back to the state they were in prior to you exercising and also encourage flexibility progressions.
- Include resistance work in your routine. When doing this, make sure you are going for full range of motion – the weight can help to increase your flexibility and improve mobility. A stiff legged deadlift for example (see below with a kettlebell) – the dynamic/ballistic progression of this would be a kettlebell swing. Make sure you refer to point 3 after your session though, all of this info works together!
5. Think primal movement – there are 7 key primal movement patterns that we have, generally speaking as we get older, we don’t use them all as much. Try to think about moving your body in new way as much as you can – this can be trying a new form of exercise like Yoga, swimming or even rock climbing 🤔. This will help with day to day functional movement and improve your help to maintain good posture, strength and mobility. Provided that you are moving safely and not just yanking your body through all kinds of new ranges.
6. Relax! Stress can cause the body to tighten up – if you have a particularly stressful job and train hard at the gym, lifting heavy or pushing yourself to the max each session, this can be a recipe for a very tight, stressful body. Exercise should be about balance – include other forms of exercise that is a little nicer on the body – like walking, meditation (exercising the brain) – practice just breathing and being present in the moment. De stress your mind and unravel your body, it will thank you for this.
7. Check in with your posture throughout your day. If you sit down a lot throughout your day certain areas can become inactive. When walking squeeze to engage your glutes to switch these on, lengthen your spine, walk proud. And try to apply this to other aspects, sit with good posture. Posture is so important to think about, particuarlly in this day where it is so easy to slump/look down at our phones etc.
8. Be consistent, consistently is key. Try to think about getting all of the above (or as many as you can) into your routine and make them habits that you enjoy. Make changes if you like, just be consistent with this and you will be sure to notice a difference in your movement and flexibility.
Some of these things are obvious but I think it’s important every now and then to make the conscious effort to use these day to day.
Hope you enjoyed the read – work on your movement every day and you will make progress 🙂