Keep on stretching
In a previous life, I taught group fitness classes. Quite a lot of them. Not just the modern offerings such as Body Pump and Body Attack but even the old aerobic classes like New Body and HiEnergy.
One of the benefits of teaching three, four or five classes a day – trust me, there aren’t many – is that at the end of class we’d stretch and cool down. Which amounts to four or five stretch sessions a day.
Fast forward to Crazy Town 2012 and I find myself bolting out of the gym after a hard training session with the only thing having been stretched being my patience when I’m stuck in traffic rushing to my next appointment.
But it’s a trap: not only do we stretch less as we get busier, our bodies also become less flexible naturally. And if we’re not careful, we’ll find ourselves down on all fours every time we need to pick something up off the floor, resulting in a loss of dignity on top of the lost flexibility.
Flexibility is particularly important when we start to get older.
This is because flexibility and mobility are inextricably linked. Don’t get me wrong – flexibility and mobility are not the same thing. Flexibility describes the ability of your joints and muscles to go through a range of movement, and mobility describes your muscles actively taking them through that range of movement. But the outcome is the same, it’s about your ability to get around and do stuff.
Regular stretching is, of course, the key. It doesn’t take long for your range of movement to reduce, particularly if you have a sedentary lifestyle. So make yourself put just five minutes aside to stretch at the end of each workout, walk, swim or whatever.
Don’t forget that as we age, the collagen structure changes in our connective tissues, it cross-links and gets in a mess generally, shortening and reducing our range of movement in the process, so get stretching into your routine for the long term.