Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be more physically flexible? To be able to slink across a room with athleticism and grace? Maybe you'd just like to move without the stiffness you can never quite stretch away.
The idea of flexibility often conjures up images of yogis and dancers. But what if I told you the type of mobility required to move with ease didn’t require long periods of uncomfortable, static stretching?
Increasing mobility is less about specific stretches and more about variation. When we change how we interact with our environment, we alter our movements to meet the new demands.
Improving your physical mobility doesn’t have to be complicated. Below are five easy ways to get a little more mobility into your life.
Get up and down from the floor daily.
The No. 1 thing clients tell me they notice about the aging process is difficulty level in getting up and down from the ground—but it doesn’t have to be this way. Practice moving all the way down to a seated position and all the way back up into a standing position. Can you do it without using your hands? Can you do it different ways? At first, the answer to these questions may be no, but if you practice getting up and down from the floor four or five days a week, eventually, it will get easier. And as it gets easier, you will be able to incorporate different ways of doing it.
Spend a little time on the floor daily.
Sitting on the floor requires flexibility in your hips, and lying on the floor requires flexibility in your back. Set a timer for 5 minutes, two or three times a week, and just see if you can find different ways to get comfortable. You can lie down with your knees bent, you can sit with your legs bent and your knees out to the side, or you can sit with your legs long in front of you. Lying down, you can hug your knees into your chest or place your arms in various positions. If you are feeling adventurous, you can even explore different positions on your stomach or on your hands and knees. Don’t put yourself in a position that feels painful, but don’t be afraid to move around a little bit and see what it feels like to interact with the ground.
Vary how you stand up and sit down.
An easy way to gain strength in your legs is to stand up and sit down as slowly as you can; stagger your feet when you sit down or stand up. You can also change how wide your feet are when you stand up or sit down.
Move your arms throughout the day.
If you spend a fair amount of time in front of a computer, your arms will be very comfortable by your side, with your elbows bent. Setting a timer for once every 30 to 45 minutes as a reminder to move your arms, look over your shoulders, or move your shoulders around in different positions will make your entire upper extremity feel more flexible.
Look for opportunities to use your body differently.
If you know you tend to walk the stairs with your right foot, try leading with your left foot. If you spend a lot of time with your wrists bending the fingers down, occasionally move the wrists the other way, bending the fingers up toward the ceiling—or maybe even make circles with your wrists once in a while. If you spend a lot of time in shoes, take your shoes off and feel what it’s like to walk around your house with your shoes off. Can you feel your heel against the floor? The more you use your body in a variety of ways throughout the day, the more flexible and mobile you will be.
Improving your flexibility and mobility will enable you to interact more fully with the world around you. Ultimately, this leads to a richer experience of your environment; these experiences begin to shape how you experience your life.
Interested in sharpening your flexibility tool kit? Here's how one woman learned to regain her flexibility, once and for all.
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