When most people think about getting in shape, they focus on two things…cardio or weight training. Many people neglect the 3rd area of fitness…flexibility!
If that’s you, you’re not alone. Yep, I’m guilty too…and I’m paying for it now!
My Self-Inflicted Mess
It’s no secret that I love to lift weights. Weight lifting is the one activity that I’ve discovered that gives me VISIBLE results. I love feeling strong and it gives me confidence that carries over into other areas of my life. (Psst! I can help you with that too!)
There was a time a few years ago where I was lifting 5-6 days a week and going to yoga 5 days a week. I looked and felt absolutely amazing! Somewhere along the way, I dropped yoga. It’s hard to maintain that much working out and have a life too.
(Ok, confession…now that my hair is longer, it’s a pain in the ass to wash and dry my hair every day and hot yoga doesn’t help!)
A couple years later, I was in a snowboarding accident. A 6’4″ guy took me out and I didn’t see him coming! Rude, right?
After that, my low back kept going out of alignment. Normally with a few consistent visits to the chiropractor, I’d be good for a while. Lately, the dull ache doesn’t go away.
I kept blaming it on the accident, but I finally got really honest with myself after writing Are You Confused About Muscle Imbalance?.
I realized how tight ALL the muscles on my body were getting.
The book, Pain Free: A Revolutionary Method for Stopping Chronic Pain by Pete Egoscue talks about how many of our aches and pains are due to muscular issues. My intermittent stretching wasn’t really cutting it.
I decided to reach out to one of the most knowledgable massage therapists I know. I wanted to see if she would massage and help me stretch.
BONUS TIP: Massage therapists who specialize in sports massage are great for this kind of thing as they’ll do some active stretching with you as part of the service…and it feels AMAZING!
It turns out that my psoas muscles (deep within my core) are so tight that it’s causing my hips to pull forward. This puts a strain on my low back. I then offset this “new shape” by holding my head forward…which then stresses my neck more than necessary, resulting in headaches.
And then the dreaded words came out of her mouth, “Tami, I can’t help you. You really need to go to a physical therapist.”
Whoa! She recommended a great guy, Dennis, at ProActive Physical Therapy. They work on the Colorado Avalanche, so I figured I was in good hands.
After one hour, I felt significantly better! Overall, he found that no real damage was done and the little voice in my head that kept holding me back “because I was in a snowboarding accident” was put to rest.
Are you letting an injury hold you back from the life you want to live? Get help! (Tweet that!)
I’m already looking forward to my next visit! A few more times and I’ll be back in business!!
Benefits of Flexibility
There are quite a few benefits to adding flexibility training into your regular routine.
- Enhanced muscle relaxation
- Improved range of motion within joints..making them more efficient!
- Improved muscular balance and posture
- Enhanced speed of movement
- Reduced injury occurrence for some activities
- Improved performance of certain sport-related activities
- Increased nutrient flow to the joints…allowing greater elasticity of tissues.
- Increased neuromuscular coordination…muscle memory is real, my friends!
- Decreased risk of low back pain…hallelujah!
Research shows that many injuries occur due to tight or stiff muscles. As we get older, the effects compound and next thing you know, you’re a mess!
Adding Flexibility Into Your Routine
The best part about all of this is that many times it can be corrected or at least improved with adequate stretching.
You want to start your flexibility workout the same as you would cardio or weight training…with a 5-15 minute warmup. This warmup gets the blood flowing and warms the tissues for the activity ahead.
Daily stretching is recommended, but at the bare minimum do stretch before and after activities. The benefits of stretching last from 90 minutes to 24 hours. When you stretch every day, you maintain those benefits!
Hold each stretch from 10-30 seconds and repeat two to three times each. Work your way through your body and cover them all. At least cover the body parts that you’ll be working during your activity that day.
Here’s a whole plethora of stretches for you to consider from Bodybuilding.com.
Get your stretching on!!
Take Action Now
Tell me in the comments below about your stretching routine. Where are you letting injuries hold you back? Do you make flexibility a priority in your workouts? Are you going to do anything differently now?