Quick-fixes might work for a week or two, but they don’t last. Here’s how to build flexibility practices into daily life for a sustainable and long-lasting approach.
You’re not a yo-yo dieter, and you don’t “start again on Monday” with training. So why is it so difficult to get into the groove with mobility work?
Maybe it’s that mobility work isn’t sexy. Perhaps it’s because you don’t see tangible gains. But you know deep down that you’d really benefit from a consistent flexibility practice.
What is flexibility work?
It might be easier to say what it’s not. Having a consistent mobility practice doesn’t mean going to an hour-long yoga session 3 x a week. Nor does it mean setting aside 90 minutes on a Sunday for some quality time with your foam roller.
Like any sustainable approach to health, a life-long flexibility practice means finding a way to move your body every single day for a short amount of time.
You wouldn’t eat vegetables twice a week and expect to get all the benefits of a healthy diet. And you wouldn’t go to the gym once and wonder why you’re not fit yet. The same goes for flexibility.
How to build flexibility into your day
Once you stop thinking of flexibility work as dedicated, standalone sessions, you begin to see the 1000s of everyday opportunities to stretch, move, and work through range of movement.
Doing up shoelaces or getting things out of your bag is a chance to do a forward fold or hamstring stretch. Getting something out of kitchen cupboards is an opportunity to hold a squat or even to do Cossack squats.
Taking a phone call? Use the door frame to stretch out each side of your chest in turn. Got an electric toothbrush? Does it buzz every 30 seconds? Great, that’s 4 x 30 second intervals that you could use to move through a lower body flow.
Aim to move in and out of stable, full range of motion movements every time you move and you’ll soon build plenty of extra flexibility work into your day.
Every day items for a flexible lifestyle
You don’t need a yoga studio to train your flexibility. Look around you – there are plenty of flexibility tools where you are. Chairs, doorframes, towels, long socks, kitchen surfaces, the coffee table, and your bottom step are a great place to start (not all at the same time!)
5 big benefits of flexibility work
Improved strength. When your body can function well at the end range of movements, you will be able to lift more, have greater power output, and build more strength.
Less pain. This one is pretty obvious. The better you can move, the easier you’ll find it to train and also to just move around in daily life.
Fewer injuries. Flexibility work doesn’t magically prevent injuries but it does help you move better and with less restrictions, so your body can function properly.
Calm the CNS. A lot of our training keeps us in a state of stress, and flexibility work allows us to drop into regular pockets of calm, with a focus on slower movements and breathing.
Better posture. Creating a sustainable flexibility practice will help you have better posture which has obvious benefits for daily life and ageing.
The core rules of daily flexibility
Move through full range of motion with every habitual movement at home or work (Cossack squats, ankle flexibility, chest stretches)
Build small flexibility movements into training (stretching your thoracic using a bar in the rack, or stretching your wrists out)
Move through a series of stretches during any “dead time” in the day (phone calls, TV watching)
Attach your flexibility practice onto existing habits that are non-negotiable, like making a coffee, brushing your teeth, getting up from your desk.
Think beyond standalone stretching sessions and yoga classes and start building short periods of flexibility into your day. You’ll feel the benefits in your training, recovery, sleep and general sense of wellbeing!