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Let's get flexible: touching your toes without tears can be great for your health!
Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes - remember this kindergarten rhyme? At the time it was fun to sing and our little bodies enjoyed the repetition and movement that went along with it. But the passage of time and growing up have a funny way of changing our thinking – and certainly our bodies!
So if the thought of touching your toes feels painful just to imagine – this could be your body talking to you. Perhaps it’s time you took a closer look at your flexibility – or lack thereof.
That old adage, ‘use it or lose it’ applies perfectly to the mobility and flexibility conversation. As tired as this cliché may sound, there’s great truth in it. The older we get, the more important it is to stay flexible and mobile – our overall health and wellbeing depends on it.
How does flexibility work to improve your range of motions?
Elements of flexibility, stability and strength can work together to create improved ranges of motion at any joint; this is also known as mobility.
But since mobility is made up of so many different aspects, it can be confusing and a little challenging to figure out the best way to promote your mobility.
You can try these two simple mobility exercises to get you started. Try holding each of them for around 30 seconds each and increase the time as you become more comfortable.
“Working on your flexibility and mobility at the same time is key because it addresses the movement and the quality of movement.”
The ’magic’ of mobility
It’s not a quick-fix solution to your tight muscles and limited range of movement, however improving your mobility can have a positive impact on your circulatory systems including:
- the lymphatic and blood systems
- cerebrospinal flow
In fact, after just one mobility and stretch session you will notice the change in your body. A regular, but gentle, stretching routine can reward you with larger ranges of motion, lower risk of injury or falls, and better control of your joints.
You could try this guided static stretching routine from our Health Hub team. Just make sure you are fully warmed up before you attempt this one.
Can you be naturally flexible?
Remarkably, the answer is yes. Which is why you shouldn’t put pressure on yourself to go that extra mile when you’re touching your toes for instance.
Taking the stretch too far could do you more harm than good. As with all things, moderation is key.
The level of your flexibility can be determined by the following things:
- body shape.
“How much physical activity you do every day also impacts on your flexibility.”
A closer look at the benefits of flexibility
The simple act of touching your toes may not feel like it’s doing you any real good, but the benefits are more far-reaching than you may think. Developing your body’s strength and flexibility can help you deal and recover from physical stress faster.
- Lengthening and opening your muscles can result in less pain
- You’ll experience a better range of motion throughout your body
- Your posture and balance will improve because of stronger muscles and joints.
It’s also important to note that, carrying any muscular tension in your body can also affect circulation and the ability your body has to move nutrients and oxygen properly through your system.
In the home stretch
It doesn’t matter how old you are, life is better with a healthy, flexible, more mobile body. But you don’t need to become a super supple yoga teacher or Olympic athlete to enjoy the full benefits of a regular stretching routine. It’s about giving your body the chance to be the best it can be – at any age, at any flexibility level.
Bringing back some of the fun repetition and movement of your kindergarten years may sound silly on the surface, but it can go a long, long way in keeping your body limber, flexible and moving freely well into your twilight years.
And you don’t need to sing ‘heads, shoulders, knees and toes’ on loop to make this a reality!
All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified healthcare professional.
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