7 Tips to Improve Flexibility & Mobility
Latest posts by Rich Thurman MA, CSCS CPT, ONNIT KB Specialist (see all)
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I’ll never forget the first time I arrived in Korea. I had set aside Personal Training for a while to venture across the planet in search of something different. I became a public school teacher in Incheon, South Korea.
My first day of school I was shocked when I went into the bathroom stall and there was just a porcelain hole in the ground. “How was I supposed to use this?” I thought.
The answer was that I needed to squat and it had to be a deep squat at that. It was later that I learned that squatting was actually a healthier way to relieve the bowels as it put the colon in a better position to provide a more complete removal of waste.
As Americans or Westerners I think we have devolved from our natural state of human ability. Squatting becomes cumbersome for us and over time we lose our natural ability. This became very evident when my son was born. The first thing he learned after learning to walk was how to get to his feet without pulling up on something.
How did he do it?
He got on all fours and pushed himself into a deep squatted position and then stood up. From there, he began to squat whenever he wants to pick something up off the floor. Astonishing… He was teaching me that over the years I had become too lazy to do the most fundamental of human motions. And as a result, I had lost flexibility and mobility in the hip joints.
Most Western people have lost the ability to sink deeply into a squat and as a result Hip Mobility is impaired. We sit on toilets; We sit at desks. As a matter of fact we discourage anything outside of sitting from a very young age.
The truth is that if our body can find a cheaper way to move then it will always choose the least expensive method. By “cheaper” I mean, less energy use for the action. Over time the body begins to go through shorter ranges of movement and you become restricted… A prisoner to your tight hamstrings, calves and other muscles.
But there’s hope for you yet.
Flexibility and mobility are things that take time and patience. Time you have… Patience, well that’s something not all of us are good at, but we have room to improve. So how do you improve flexibility and mobility?
- Start with introducing some basic mobility in your warmups and be sure to add a stretch and cool down at the end of all workouts
- Sign up for a Yoga class once a week. Yoga is a great way to learn new things about your body and find areas you may not have known were tight and restricted.
- Get someone to manually stretch you on a regular basis. I stretch all of my clients manually. It not only helps me gauge their mobility and improvement, but it pushes clients into ranges they wouldn’t normally when left to their own devices.
- Have a Fitness Professional design a mobility program that fits your needs.
- Do a complete mobility workout on every third day of your workout program. All bodyweight.
- Spend time statically holding at your threshold. Some forms of Yoga do this. By holding right at the threshold, you’re subtly (blatantly) encouraging your body to be ok with where it is. Remember to breathe.
- Try some forms of massage for muscle release or if you don’t have the dough, get yourself a foam roller and work on providing your own muscle release therapy.
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