How do you get flexible, without stretching?
Easy. Don’t get tight and rigid in the first place
I’m only half joking. Because half the battle is in staying loose and relaxed. You need to incorporate changes into your lifestyle that will prevent you from getting tight. The same changes will make you more and more flexible as you persist.
Your body adapts to persistent demands. The current demand you’re making on your body, is to become chair shaped. You need to change the demand. You need to demand flexibility. And your body will respond. If you’re persistent. Persistence is definitely key. Every millimeter of range of motion needs to be fought for and held. The more gradual and consistent your progress, the better you will consolidate your gains in flexibility. Rapid improvement in flexibility, attained by agonising stretching will be lost equally rapidly.
Listed below are the high return, low risk, low effort methods that I’ve used.
1.Going Barefoot- I have a separate post on that topic.
2. Sitting on the floor. You’re forced to sit on a chair or at a desk 8 hours a day. You’re spending 8 hours a day sleeping(hopefully). The remaining 8 hours, you’ll have to either walk, stand, run, exercise or sit. Most of it will be spent sitting. My suggestion, is that you spend the sitting part of that 8 hours, sitting on the floor. Getting down on to the floor and getting up off it is the fastest way to improve flexibility. All you need to keep an eye on, is to avoid using the same seated posture on the floor all the time. For example, people will gravitate towards leaning on the wall or furniture and stretching their legs out, when they’re sitting on the floor. You’re essentially back in the chair shape. Defeats the purpose.
3.Looking at differently parts of the sky- looking up, frequently and at different parts of the sky is not only relaxing, but it will give a reset for the musculoskeletal chains in the head and neck. If you are looking at the clouds, the sun, birds or the tops of the trees, you’re getting calmer, getting a good dose of sunlight which will help you sleep better. Plus, you’re integrating eye movements with the movement of your neck and core. This improves posture on its own.
4. Exhaling adequately. Most of us hold our breath in partial inhalation. Try it and see. There will usually be an unnecessary holding on to the inhaled air. This will cause your chin to thrust forward, your neck and shoulders to get tight and elevated, your abdomen to go soft. Also, general tone in most muscles of your body will increase. You will get generally tighter and more stressed if you’re holding your breath in inhalation. Make it a habit to check consciously once in a while to make sure you’re exhaling fully. Practice a few breaths of complete (effortless) exhalation every half an hour.
5.Head and neck movements already described in point 3. If you don’t have access to the sky during your work day, you’re probably in prison and you don’t know it yet. Consider breaking free.
6. Eye movements. Discussed in point 3. Also if you’re continually focussed on a single point at the same distance in front of your face, a screen for example, you’ll end up with the computer posture and the involuntary breath hold in inhalation as described in point 4.
7. Single leg balance work- stand on one leg. Make the small muscles and the numerous joints in your feet work to maintain balance. The neurologic signals that travel up and down from the feet to the brain will improve overall posture and flexibility. Play games that challenge your balance. Do exercises that challenge your balance. The gym machines do nothing of that sort.
8. Vary your routines. Especially your exercise routines. Add martial arts and sparring. Use different kinds of equipment. Add some chaos into your lifestyle, but not so much that it becomes completely chaotic.😬