We have really enjoyed sharing our blogs throughout 2021 and focusing on specific areas of our physical and mental health for both our professional and personal lives. This month, we are focusing specifically on flexibility. It’s a great area to delve into, flexibility, as it’s something we are all aware of within our own bodies. Its also something we see as inevitably deteriorating as our lives go on. We are in awe of how the young are incredibly flexible and think nothing of the acrobatics they perform through play, and yet we consider aging and decreasing flexibility to go hand in hand and just accept it. However, that really doesn’t have to be the case, and with a focus on flexibility, we can use it to improve so many aspects of our physical health…
Having good flexibility doesn’t have to mean you can do the splits with ease or back bend into a flip as soon as you get up in a morning! Good flexibility is about having ease of movement, reduced stiffness and a general appreciation for the flexibility you need for daily life and exercising. When you have this focus (and you can begin to see improvements in flexibility very quickly with practise), you can benefit from positive effects beyond just being able to touch your toes; such as improved posture and muscle coordination plus reduced risk of injury, stiffness and soreness.
Like most areas of our physical and mental health, improving it requires daily practise. This doesn’t have to be a huge amount of time, it’s the regularity that sounds. However, if you do stick with it, you’re patience and perseverance will be rewarded. An easy way to do just that is to incorporate yoga into your exercise routine. There are thousands of Yoga courses or even free you tube tutorials out there, some of which are just 10 minutes long, that can help your flexibility. However, yoga goes beyond that with a more deep-rooted focus on the mental and physical connection, making it a brilliant exercise to do first thing in the morning as you wake up those muscles and prepare your mind and body for the day ahead. In fact, with such a focus on your mental state and breathing during yoga, your flexibility will often improve without even realising you were focusing on it! Yoga is a great activity to do alone, as it enables you to focus deeply on your current state, breathing and inner emotions. However, it’s also a really enjoyable activity to partake in as a team! Particularly if you find yourself in a busy period of time at work, or you see the staff within the workplace are becoming negative or sluggish. So, get the gang to roll out those mats, join together on Zoom or MS Teams and take part in a short yoga session to start their working day. You’ll be amazed at what this does to morale!
It’s also important to maintain good flexibility if you are hoping to improve your overall physical health in other ways too. Maybe you’re taking up running this year, joining the gym or you’ve invested in a bike. Whatever it may be, you need to ensure you’re allowing yourself to dedicate time to flexibility to help decrease the risk of muscular and skeletal issues along the way. Without flexibility, your muscles shorten, become tighter and make your exercise more difficult to undertake and enjoy.
So, as we can see, focusing on flexibility is not only important for our everyday lives and exercise plans, but essential. But what else can you do?
Pilates: Slightly more physical than yoga, Pilates is a brilliant exercise that will help improve flexibility and more specifically, posture. Try an online Zoom class! You’ll be amazed at what appears on the face of it to be a very simple, slow and easy routine is actually quite demanding and tests your ability, working up a sweat!
Warm up: Whenever you partake in exercise, be sure to keep your warm up dynamic. Include stretches and movements from different muscle groups such as a lunge with an arm extension. Never miss your warm up! It’s just as important as the rest of the work out!
Deskercise: Yep, it’s a real thing! Incorporating simply exercise movements into your day whilst not even leaving your desk! Try a seated spinal twist or hamstring stretch. Or, try one of these great stretches for desk workers. Chest/Heart opening exercises are great for desk workers, being hunched over a computer all day you can begin to feel those shoulders creeping forward. So many of us suffer with poor posture and sore mid backs after a long day in the office, so set little reminders to make sure you take 5 minutes here and there for simple movements to reduce that pain and increase that flexibility.
Take stock of your body right now as you read this, are there areas you feel are stiff, tired and sore with poor flexibility? Now is the time to rectify that! It’s never too late and with a little practise, patience and time you’ll be amazed at the improvements you see. This is not about just accepting the flexibility you have, it’s about aiming for the flexibility you want and need for a better, healthier life.