“Flexibility is the quality of bending easily without breaking.” — Anonymous
“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.” — Bruce Lee
“Men are born soft and supple; dead they are stiff and hard. Plants are born tender and pliant; dead, they are brittle and dry. Thus whoever is stiff and inflexible is a disciple of death. Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life. The hard and stiff will be broken. The soft and supple will prevail.” — Lao Tzu
“The biggest issue is muscle pliability. That’s what I think the biggest secret to me is. What is muscle pliability? Muscle pliability is keeping your muscles long and soft.” — Tom Brady
Today, our bodies gradually lose their range of motion as we age. We can either accept that or take action to keep healthy. How much time each day are you willing to dedicate to maintaining a full range of motion?
Benefits of Flexibility and Pliability
Activities that lengthen and stretch muscles enable them to achieve their full range of motion. This
- improves basic daily functional abilities, such as reaching, bending, or stooping
- prevents injuries, back pain and balance problems
- reduces tightness and stress on joints and tendons, increasing healthspan
- improves athletic performance
Range of Motion Mobility Checklist
Professional sports teams have reduced their injury rates by using techniques for preventative therapy and training. Many leading franchises use Fusionetics, a methodology developed by physical therapist Michael Clark. Fusionetics measures its athletes on movement-efficiency, providing ratings in several areas. They recommend developing proper movement techniques to enhance your daily life. How well do you think you’d score on how well you move your:
- Wrists, hands and fingers
- Hamstrings and quadriceps
- Ankles, feet and toes
Fusionetics slogan is “Before you work. Before you play. Before you train. Before you hurt yourself. Improve how you move.”
In physical therapy, there is a tool called a goniometer which measures range of movement. You can use this to set your health baseline, then see how much you can improve from there.
Before beginning flexibility tests, make sure to warm up. Then, give these a try.
Set monthly goals for each test and make time each day to improve your results.
When to Stretch?
Stretching can also be a great way to get you moving in the morning or a way to relax after a long day. Even ten minutes a day can make a big difference. Here are 10 ways that stretching can be built into your daily routine.
Experts no longer recommend stretching before exercise. Start your workout routine with a 5-10 minute light movement-based warm-up to get blood and oxygen flowing to your muscles. Then, initiate ten minutes of stretching. Post-workout flexibility exercises are a good cool-down activity.
Top Stretching Techniques
- Harvard Medical Guide to 35 Stretches
- Yoga and Pilates — combine stretching, relaxation and balance
- Plyometric exercises — good for warm-ups and cool downs
Top Books on Stretching Techniques
- Stretching to Stay Young by Jessica Matthews
- Better Stretching; Greater Flexibility in 9 Minutes Per Day by Joe Yoon
- Anatomy and 100 Essential Stretching Exercises by Guillermo Seijas Albir
Stretching has become big business, with thousands of “stretch studios” — StretchLab, LYMBR, StrechU, Motion Stretch — in cities across America.
Top Articles on Proper Posture
Your daily activities impact your muscles the most. Key muscles atrophy when you are sitting for long periods of time. This leads to neck and back pain. Here are some helpful tips to improve your daily habits.
- Sitting Is Still Hurting You More Than You Realize
- 5 Exercises to Reverse the Negative Effects of Sitting
- Proper Posture for Using Technology
Pliability has been popularized by Tom Brady and his trainer Alex Guerrero through their brand TB12. Guerrero describes pliability as, “a way to maintain your muscles long and lean and soft. It allows the joints in your body to move efficiently and correctly without putting loads on your tendons or your structure.”
Pliability lacks scientific studies and has skeptics, however it has developed a following of professional and recreational athletes. The TB12 method uses a combination of vibrating foam and sphere rollers plus significant resistance band work. Similar to flexibility work, the goal is to achieve muscle balance throughout the body.
Foam and ball rollers allow you to self-massage painful knots and tense muscles – also known as “trigger points” – by placing the rollers underneath you and slowly rolling over the tender or stiff areas to relieve painful trigger points through myofascial release. With rolling, you are removing blockages that form in connective muscle tissue so your muscles can heal quicker and become supple again. Of note, you do not need to warm up prior to rolling. Also, the TB12 foam and sphere rollers are expensive and made for large people. Fortunately, smaller and less expensive options are readily available from other vendors.
This concludes today’s article. As your reward for reading and dedicating ten minutes of time each day for flexibility and pliability exercises, take 12 minutes to appreciate the top 7 contortionists in the world performing on Got Talent Global. Don’t miss contestant #1 and definitely don’t try this at home.