Our bodies function better when our joints have good mobility and range of motion. But many of us become stiff over time (working from home at a desk, performing repetitive movements, or bedridden for various reasons) which can leave us feeling uncomfortable and incapable of doing novel movements. When we have a poor range of motion we risk injury when performing new movements or activities that require a good functional range of motion.
Why does my body stiffen up?
Human beings are amazingly adaptable to the stresses and strain placed upon them by their environment. Good examples of this can be seen in the transformation of an athlete’s body when training for sport. An elite marathoner is lean and muscular while a sprinter has large powerful muscles. This is the result of the consistent training stresses that they place on their bodies in order to produce the desired change. All physiological systems are governed by this principle. Unfortunately, it works in the opposite direction as well. When stress is removed the body responds by getting weaker or losing capabilities that it previously had. This is the true embodiment of “use it or lose it”.
In today's economy, many of us spend our day sedentary. Either typing away on a computer or sitting in endless meetings. This offers very little variety of movement to keep our joints and muscles capable. You may have noticed that your hamstrings are tight, hip flexors are short and your spine has stiffened over time. This is your body adapting to the long hours of sitting you have been training it for.
How Do I Make My Body More Flexible?
The key to making any physical improvement is to harness the power of consistent training to your advantage. It does not take much time each day, but you must consistently signal to your body that you need your full range of motion for it to make the desired changes.
In 6 minutes a day, the average person can greatly improve their body's functional range of motion.
Here is Our Suggested 6-minute Mobility Program
- Downward dog - to Cobra - repeat 10 times
Move into the downward dog position, hold for 1 second and drop into the Cobra, hold for one second.This movement pattern will help to improve spinal extension and ankle mobility while improving hamstring and hip flexor length helping to balance the hours of sitting at a computer.
- The Spiderman Stretch - 10 times per side
Sink deep into this position until you feel a stretch on the glute region of your front leg and the thigh of your back leg. Rotate your shoulders toward the front knee while reaching to the ceiling, hold for 1 second and return your hands to the start position.
This movement will improve hip, ankle and knee and thoracic spine joint mobility while producing length in your glutes and hip flexors.
- The Eagle Stretch - 10 times per side.
Shoulder blades stay in contact with the ground and the leg crosses over the body to try to touch the ground on the opposite side - hold for 2 seconds and return to the start position.
This movement further improves spinal mobility as well as increasing length in hip, abdominal and low back musculature.
- Finish with Child's Pose
This popular yoga pose can help to improve ankle plantarflexion, knee and hip flexion as well as shoulder elevation range of motion. It is also a nice relaxing way to end your routine!
Consistency is the Key
You will feel great after this routine. But remember, you will need to do it consistently every day to see the results you want. There are no shortcuts when it comes to human physiology. You don’t have to do a lot,.but you have to do it consistently.
If you are having pain, or more difficulty restoring movement to your joints than you feel is normal, book an appointment with a Physiotherapist. They are experts in human movement and function and they will be able to customize a program to exactly your needs.