Maintaining Movement and Flexibility

Written by: Walker Cruikshank, CSCS, XPS

Maintaining proper mobility and flexibility is critical for us to function well, stay healthy, and pain free.  Many tend to neglect this aspect of fitness, while at the same time continue to stay active in recreational sports or hobbies.  Most jobs can force us into a somewhat sedentary lifestyle where we might be sitting behind a desk for many hours of the day.  Sitting for many hours of the day can cause our muscles and joints to tighten up and become restricted due to a lack of use.  Here are a few simple ways to modify your lifestyle to help maintain proper mobility and joint function:

  1. Get a standing desk
    One phrase that is becoming more and more popular is that “sitting is the new smoking.”  There has been quite a bit of research and published articles looking at the effects of prolonged sitting. Even though that phrase may be a bit exaggerated prolonged sitting has been shown to decrease our nervous system function.  It can also lead to hip flexor tightness which can lead to back pain as well as other symptoms up the chain.
  2. Take more walks
    Humans have evolved to become very efficient at walking.  It is simple yet effective.  The popularity of Fit bits has certainly helped increase the amount of steps people are taking every day.  Doing at least two minutes of walking every can possibly reverse the bad effects of sitting too much.  If possible, take a walk for a meeting instead of in an office or conference room.
  3. Stretch after workouts and before bed
    Dynamic flexibility done before a workout can help prepare the body for the movement you are about to put it through.  By actively taking a muscle through a range of motion you are able to simultaneously lengthen and strengthen.  Static stretching after a workout can help reduce soreness the following days as well as prevent out muscles from getting to stiff.  Our body undergoes repair and generation while we sleep.  Stretching before bed can help us to relax and unwind.
  4. Move more!
    Moving well and often is the best way to ultimately keep our joints and muscles healthy and pan free.  Variety and balance are key.  Doing too much of the same thing over and over can lead to overuse injuries.  Our body operates on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis.  If we do not feed our body with a well-rounded “diet” of quality movement patterns then our body will forget how to do them effectively.  Although stretching can be effective in the short term, in the long run the best way to make sure muscles and joint will function properly is to use them in movement patterns that are natural to humans.