8 min read.
- Keep your Independence
- Avoid Silly Injuries & Tendonitis
- Increase Body Awareness and Proprioception
If you’re like me, you like to know the reasoning for things that are supposed to be “good for you”. After all, there’s only so much time in the day. If I tried to do everything that the internet told me to do, I wouldn’t have any time to scratch myself!
But! If I have a strong motivator, know the reasons why I should do something and clearly know what I’m going to get out of it, I am much more likely to do something.
With that in mind, let me persuade you on the importance of daily stretching! Something that took me a long time to appreciate, taking a devastating, life-changing injury for me to realise just how beneficial it really is.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to go full yoga, it’s much easier than you think! In The Simplistic Mobility Method, we show you how you can give your body some good loving in just 5 minutes a day!
At the end of the day, we only have one body and it’s incredibly important that we learn how to look after it - not just through nutrition, but also how it works and moves. Being stiff, sore or injured just makes you cranky, which isn’t fun for anyone, never mind being too afraid of your knees or back to help move a sofa.
Keep your Independence. Maintain Joint Strength!
Though I’m still only 29 and 36 months old, keeping my independence as I age is very important to me.
If you don’t move your wrists, elbows, shoulders, neck, back, hips, knees and ankles daily, it’s well known they become stiffer, but they also become weaker. This is one reason why you see a lot of older people (who have been inactive for years) appear to be unsteady on their feet, to struggle getting up and down, and their whole body seems to move more and more as one rigid block, rather than individual joints. This doesn’t happen overnight. Slowly, over years of inactivity, the smaller stabilising muscle atrophy - and years can accumulate quickly.
Having a quick routine 5 minutes a day like the Head to Toe Mobility from The Simplistic Mobility Method is enough to counteract this. If you consistently & lightly move your joints in all the ways that they can move every day, they don’t lose their basic functions.
Basically, over long periods of inactivity your brain and muscles kind of “forget” that they are supposed to move freely and independently of each other and thus become “merged” together, giving you that shuffling gait or elbow that won’t straighten properly any more.
Because the onset is so gradual, no one really notices this stuff until it becomes so bad that it is painful and visibly obvious. Problem is, unless you’re surrounded by fit people, or are in gyms that promote good movement and healthy joints, it’s very easy to think how you move/feel is normal, not even knowing you have an issue... until it slaps you in your immobile face and stairs start becoming a concern.
If you move a little every day your joints will feel strong and move freely, reducing stiffness and avoiding your body starting to change – limiting how you well walk, how you get in and out of chairs or up and down off the floor.
If you never want to lose your independence, start looking after your joints now so that they will keep working for you later!
Avoid Silly Injuries, Tendonitis and Losing Range of Motion
If you don’t regularly use a muscle through its full range then it becomes shortened and weak, this starts to cause a constant feeling of tightness. This doesn’t just come from inactivity, but also the repetitive motions & impacts of certain sports without proper joint care. This will cause many to run into issues like tendonitis or avoidable injuries just because their limbs are not moving the way that they should.
Now, you’ll never move “perfectly”, we’re too asymmetrical, we all have movement habits and common movement patterns, but what you want to strive for is balance. You don’t want certain muscles getting too strong or too flexible compared to others, because that probably means the surrounding muscles are too weak or too stiff. Many Yogi’s who are constantly stretching their posterior chain in Downward Dog, Forward Folds, etc. can suffer from “Yoga Butt”: chronic lower back tightness, stabbing pain in the glutes, pinching in the hips, generally feeling tight. Their hamstrings are super flexible, but weak. Conversely their quads and hip flexors are tighter and stronger, causing an imbalance in the hips and back, leading to their pain.
Another example of this is someone’s ability to freely lift their arms overhead. If your shoulders struggling to go in this direction (up, flexion) there are tight muscles struggling to move freely and some which are having to work twice as hard. Not only will they feel tightness in the shoulders themselves, but also the upper back and the neck. Combine this with the prevalence of poor posture and forward head position your entire back is going to start working overtime just to keep your shoulders functioning and it can lead to complete aches and pains everywhere.
Where things can become complicated is when you try and address this by only stretching the site of pain. For example, if you suffer from “yoga butt” you might be tempted to stretch your glutes. This will offer temporary relief, but if you’ll remember the issue was caused from an abundance of flexibility down their back side. You can get caught up feeling like you need stretching all the time and feeling even tighter than before because you are loosening muscles that are actually craving strength and full joint movement.
A better way to think about niggles or tightness is to check and see if you have full range of motion in your joints, e.g. can your hips and shoulders rotate well in all directions? If not, start working on it! Spending more time in the positions which feel tight. When a muscle can’t move the way it’s naturally built to do it starts to get annoyed and annoys everything else around it too.
When you start to address overall movement and frequently use it, the individual muscles that are perhaps causing pain or feeling of tightness start to figure themselves out, that’s one of the principles that makes The Simplistic Mobility Method so effective!
Have great movements that move all your muscles through their entirety and consistently challenge them by moving slowly, even just doing a really slow deep squat over a minute can have tremendous benefits! Movement doesn’t have to be complicated!
Increase Body Awareness and Proprioception
I don’t mean an ethereal “at one with the planet” type of awareness, just the ability to carry yourself better. Thinking back, it was crazy how much I didn’t know about my own body for like 26 years, and it caused me so many problems and injuries when I started taking an interest in my physical fitness; I ended up broken for a long time. Now I can pinpoint just how twisted I was from my habits and daily activities at the time and it is all stuff that is changeable, if you care.
Awareness is a trainable skill. Say you woke up with a tight neck. You might feel a slight tightness/stiffness on one side, but, you’re late for work and want a coffee before you go… you don’t really think anything of it. After spending all day semi-slouching at a desk, leaning over to your mouse-side arm, keeping your legs crossed one way, you’ve forgotten about your neck completely and head off to the gym! Time for a good upper body sesh to clear the cobwebs of the day!
Only… you get to first overhead press and your trap pings, tightens, and your shoulder becomes immediately weak. You’ve pulled a muscle, and you blame the overhead press.
Chances are that the sore neck was festering for a long time and it was only when it was pushed over the edge that you actually took notice.
When you make a habit of moving every day and checking how your body feels on a day to day basis you will start to become aware of what feels good, what feels tight and what you need to work on.
People that have a routine of stretching and moving daily walk more confidently and (without being all life coach-y) they seem to be happier with life in general. Think about it, the active decision to do something nice for your body every day is going to be rewarded by feeling physically and mentally better.
As you get to know your body and practice moving it frequently the better your spatial awareness is, meaning the more confident your body is able to navigate the world... with far less chance of stubbing your toe on the dressing table or doorframe.
One of the most incredible things I see the difference daily stretching & moving makes to someone with chronic back pain. When they take on this habit and their pain goes away, literally would think you are meeting a different person! Myself included.
A body that is more confident has less reason to give warning to the owner with pain, it just makes sense! So, if that doesn’t convince you to move and stretch a little every day then I don’t know what will!
If you are stuck for ideas, then make sure to sign up to our mailing list for our 7 Days of Awesome: 1 cool drill a day for 7 days! Or if you would like to go through a full body assessment then check out The Simplistic Mobility Method or work with me privately here.