Having a good range of motion is essential for everyday life. Bending down to put on your socks. Looking over your shoulder to change lanes. Reaching for a box of cereal from a high shelf at the grocery store. All of these things require access to our full range of motion. Countless everyday movements require flexibility and being able to do them takes maintenance.
“Flexibility is very much a case of use it or lose it,” said Dan Van Zandt, a flexibility coach and educator.
Instead of shying away from movements that are painful, Mr. Van Zandt said, you can work on your flexibility and improve your range of motion. Even though most of us won’t ever become flexible enough to do the splits, with time and patience we can squat a little deeper, reach a little higher and maybe even sit cross-legged on the floor.
Cultivate Flexibility and Mobility
Flexibility and mobility are different but related concepts. Flexibility describes the ability of your muscles to lengthen or stretch. Mobility refers to the joints ability to move through its full range of motion. .
Flexibility and mobility are skills to be cultivated, like strength and cardiovascular endurance. And like those skills, they can improve your quality of life. Some small studies suggest that being more flexible is linked to improved sleep and less pain, as well as a lower risk of depression.
According to studies out of Boston University, maintaining an optimal range of motion in your joints is also associated with good balance, strength and walking speed. And, of course, improving your ability to move smoothly and without pain simply makes many everyday tasks easier and more enjoyable.
Gauging your own flexibility isn’t simply a matter of touching your toes. Our bodies move and bend in many ways, and you’ll need to try a few different tests if you want a comprehensive assessment.
Essentrics® to the Rescue
Essentrics dynamically combines strengthening and stretching to develop a strong, toned body
with the ability of moving each joint and muscle freely within its full range of motion.
We flow through muscle chains, instead of holding a pose or isolating a muscle group. Following our muscle chains is naturally lengthening, like fabric being pulled along the grain.
The concept of following invisible, natural chains of muscles is a key component behind the Essentrics philosophy, which is to rebalance and realign the entire body.
This article first appeared December 9th, 2022 in The New York Times.
I’ve reprinted excerpts here.