How Stretching and Flexibility Can Improve Your Life
Did you know that I’ve found many more benefits from flexibility in my daily life than I have from my strength alone? Oftentimes, we hear about functional workouts that are designed to replicate real-life scenarios. Conversely, I can’t think of many times in my daily life that I have had to use max strength to accomplish a task. Strength training has empowered me to reach my fitness goals and enriched my life. Flexibility and stretching have made those results sustainable. Being strong makes me better at handstands, partner acrobatics, and other activities I enjoy doing recreationally. It doesn’t usually help me in my everyday life. On the flip side, I rely on my flexibility and mobility every day no matter what I am doing. Not only does my flexibility help make activities easier with increased range of motion and joint mobility, but it is also responsible for being healthy and pain-free. Stretching makes me feel good. Stretching improves posture, increases blood flow to muscles, and is necessary for injury prevention. A daily stretching routine can and will improve your personal and fitness life more than you think. Check below for some examples of everyday benefits that you can enjoy from regular stretching.
Benefits of Flexibility
Yard work- The ability to squat in a position that makes yard work easier without jeopardizing your back. Many eastern cultures use a low squat technique when gardening. Additionally, the ability to simply bend over to reach objects with ease can immensely improve the quality of your life.
Computer work- Working on shoulder mobility can allow you to be on the computer for hours at a time without negative side effects like neck pain or impingements from rounding shoulders. Stretching helps alleviate discomfort and disfigurement resulting from long days on a computer. Actively practicing mobility and flexibility helps to get rid of hunched over shoulders, neck and shoulder pain, and even tension headaches. Stretching of your wrists and fingers can also help to reduce symptoms often exacerbated from continued computer and cell phone use, such as carpal tunnel.
Housework- Even simple tasks like doing the cooking, dishes, vacuuming, and dusting require repetitive movements or standing for extended periods of time. Having flexible feet and toes goes a long way in this case. When you have mobile feet it will be more comfortable to be on them. I wear minimalist sneakers and am often barefoot to allow my feet to move in a way they were intended. Shoes with a wide toe box and natural foot shape, such as Vivo Barefoot are a great way to allow your body to move in the ways it was designed to. Daily stretching of my toes, bottoms of the feet, and ankles makes long days on the feet a breeze.
Travel- Sitting for long periods of time can be difficult with tight hips, hamstrings, and shoulders. Being more flexible in these parts of my body allows me to be more comfortable when traveling, especially long distances. I like to drive with my hands at 8 and 4 because it allows the arms to externally rotate. With hands at 10 and 2 it promotes your shoulders to be rounded which will create tension over time. Being able to rotate your head to check your surroundings, and doing it free from discomfort is a great feeling.
Getting off the ground- I take serious pride in being able to get off the ground with ease, especially without using my hands. If it sounds silly to you, give it a try. Everyone that works with me trains for this, whether it be directly or indirectly. Fun fact, my scale for how fit someone is is their ability to get off the ground without using their hands. This takes incredible flexibility in the feet, hips, and hamstrings. If you can make that happen, chances are there won’t be much to hinder your lower body mobility in your life.
Putting on/taking off sneakers- With flexible enough hamstrings to touch my toes or the ground, it makes something as simple as putting on my sneakers even easier.
Workouts are more accessible- Most of the time our flexibility limits our performance during a workout. Beginners struggle with basic movements like a squat because of tight hamstrings, calves, and hips. Even something as simple as straightening your arms in plank pose can prove challenging with tight lats and biceps. My flexibility has helped my workouts because I am able to produce a full range of motion in the basics like a squat, push up, lunge, and row, allowing me to progress efficiently when the strength is there.
Skill training is more accessible- The more experienced athletes struggle with skills like handstands and the snatch because of overhead mobility. Even professional athletes are always looking for an edge they can gain from their flexibility.
Sport/Running Longevity- When we are running or performing a sport there is always a risk of injury. My flexibility has allowed me to do the things I love while remaining safe and injury-free. I stretch after every run or workout to reduce tightness, promote blood flow, and reduce the risk of injury.
We move every day of our lives, and how well we move (and whether we do it pain-free) can often dictate the quality of our life. While strength training is an amazing practice with many benefits, flexibility, and mobility training can greatly improve the quality of and ease of the activities of your daily life outside of the gym. From tasks such as turning your neck to check traffic, bending over to tie your shoes, or feeling comfortable walking up a flight of stairs, mobility training can greatly improve how you feel every single day. The best part is that flexibility training is accessible. While we love supplementing our training with tools like yoga blocks, bands, or accumobility balls, the truth is that anyone with enough room to stretch can begin their practice and immediately see positive results.
I hope reading this blog has encouraged you to add some stretching into your routine. If stretching is new to you, start slow. You can stretch 2-3 times a week for 5 minutes at a time and then gradually increase the time and amount of days. Below, I will include some videos that will be great for anyone to implement in their daily routine.
I hope that you found this blog helpful. Thank you for taking the time to read my post.