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I like to start by answering a simple questions and at the end of this post I have a list of 5 questions you can self reflect on.
Okay, here we go…
Do you want to be Flexible or Functional?
They are not the same.
Flexible can translate to being pliable; or bending without breaking.
Functional however refers to working conditions; being able to move with ease.
A functional body is naturally both flexible and strong.
Let’s take two common scenarios of flexibility to understand this better:
- A gymnast 🤸♀️ needs the highest amounts of flexibility which comes from joints distraction. Compromising joint integrity by the excessive joint range of motions.
- We are naturally born both flexible and functional and mostly stay that way till the age of 6-8 which comes from less resistance in the muscles, which keeps the joint’s range of motion optimal.
And as most of us are born naturally flexible when we involve in various functional activities/sports (except gymnastics and similar activities that promote hyper-flexibility) our body develops accordingly.
If you are involved in tennis from a young age your body will develop one-sidedly.
If you are involved in running or similar sports you will develop certain muscles more than others and so on. You get the idea.
So unless you are competing in Olympics as the best gymnast, aiming for a highly flexible body is not necessary. (And of course, that is your decision to make)
But, in my opinion, the best option is to be both.
Flexible + Strong = Functional
It’s not that simple; because there is a limitation to measuring the level of flexibility and strength someone needs to go by the day and it differs from person to person.
And if you are stiff like wood then that just shows how much you screwed up your posture over the years.
And randomly stretching a tight muscle is not the right solution, perhaps the worse. Most people don’t know the difference between tight and overworked muscle.
Let’s try to understand this with an example;
It’s most obvious you feel tense and overworked when you have to do the job of 2 people just because your boss hasn’t found a replacement for the employees he fired last month. (Yes you can handle it for a few weeks or months but what happens afterward)
We can also debate on stretching helps relax the overworked muscle. Same as you need to get a massage on a weekend or grab a drink after work or have a smoke during work breaks to relax your mind.
You see all that is just temporary and you need to look for a long term solution; hire the people so you don’t have to do their job and you can be more efficient.
Same as improving your posture by training the right muscles to do their job to maintain a good posture.
That’s going to ultimately reduce the stress and tension and you won’t feel an urge to become flexible.
See the problem with becoming flexible or feeling the need for stretching is an addiction.
And not different than a person lifting weights playing sports running hiking all day, every day. (Perhaps they are only good at doing that!) and
That’s just an addictive behavior that comes from limiting beliefs. Many of our behaviors are shaped by our limiting beliefs.
How many times have you got a suggestion from your friend, girlfriend, wife, or colleague to try yoga?
…You either tried yoga, loved it, and still doing it…
…Or you did once and said it’s not for you…
…Or perhaps you did so much that now you are the yoga teacher yourself…
No matter where you are at now in your yoga journey it’s important to look back and remember the primary reason and reflect on it for a few minutes.
Now self reflect or answer these questions.
- What level of flexibility have you achieved?
- How long did it take to get there?
- What has changed in your body since then that has directly improved your physical ability to do something with ease?
- Do you feel functional or just flexible?
- Are you satisfied with your current posture?
And if you are looking for accountability send your answers to email@example.com
Pilates is a style of training created by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s as a form of rehabilitation. It’s safe and perfect for injured athletes, new moms with a weak core, and people who have arthritis, body aches and back pains, etc.
Pilates’ entire concept revolves around helping bedridden people get strong and healthy enough to move smoothly and without pain.
That makes Pilates one of the best forms of exercise for people who have led sedentary lives for years. Start Pilates even if you’ve hardly exercised before. It’s advised to start Pilates rather than jumping into a strenuous CrossFit or HIIT program.
Benefit 1: Pilates exercises will align your body and improves balance. Series of 34 Mat pilates exercises or exercises on the reformer creates balance in the musculoskeletal system.
Most people do not do enough exercise. The ones who do exercise regularly either are not doing them correctly or doing too many of the same movements, leading to dysfunction and misalignment in the body that results in aches, pains, stiffness, or impaired movements.
Just after a 10-session of Pilates, most people notice the change in their posture and no longer have a belly. Their abdominal muscles have developed enough strength to hold the organs. As a result, there is less pressure on the back, which leads to relief from backaches.
Benefit 2: Pilates improves flexibility
It’s inevitable to get tighter and less flexible as we age. This is mostly due to a sedentary lifestyle that makes us move within a limited range of motion. Since the body doesn’t get a chance to move much, we become less supple and flexible. Pilates exercises correct all that and improve your flexibility.
Benefits 3: Pilates will make you stronger
Muscle atrophy is a part of aging. If you do not engage your muscles enough, it will wither, and you will lose strength. Pilates exercises on the mat utilize your body weight as a form of resistance and help develop a stronger core, abdominal, and back muscles. We also offer pilates exercises on reformer machines to help you tone and safely strengthen your muscles faster.
Just after 20-30 Pilates training over 3-month’s time, you’ll notice more definition in your muscles and an increase in overall strength. You’ll be able to execute the moves fluidly and hold the poses without quivering or trembling.
Even people who have not exercised in years can start doing Pilates and move at their own pace. There is no rush with this style of training. You will not pant, gasp or end up breathless from intense cardio.
Pilates exercises consist of slow, controlled movements that allow you to progress slowly but surely. If you’ve been inactive for a very long time, are recovering from an illness, cancer, or want to resume your sports and think of embarking on an exercise program, Pilates is the best method to start.
Come and give it a try with professional and certified Pilates instructors who will encourage and help you get started. You will enjoy it so much and wish you’ve had started earlier. Get on board now.
Fibromyalgia Resiliency Program
Flexibility relates to the ability of the muscles to allow the joints to move freely.
Flexibility is often used as synonyms to Joint motion. To achieve optimium flexibility required for the functional movement on everyday basis we require to aim the following.
- Stretch the tight muscles and/or strengthen the weak muscles
- Improve joints mobility to gain normal range of motion at every joint.
Purpose of Improving Flexibility
- Improved flexibility may enhance performance in aerobic training and muscular conditioning as well as in sport.
- Flexibility training used in yoga postures helps in active relaxation that can improve both mental and physical recovery.
- Reduces stress in the exercising muscles and releases tension developed during the workout.
- Assists with posture by balancing the tension placed across the joint by the muscles that cross it. Proper posture minimizes stress and maximizes the strength of all joint movements.
- Reduces the risk of injury during exercise and daily activities because muscles are more pliable.
- Improves performance of everyday activities as well as performance in exercise and sport.
Techniques for Improving Flexibility
Joint mobilisation techniques:
By improving your range of motion, your body requires less energy to make the same movements and you also will have more flexible joints thus lessening the likelihood of injuries sustained during workouts, or any other time.
Recent research has shown that static stretching can reduce muscle soreness after exercise. These slow, gradual movements involve a controlled elongation of the muscle through it’s full range of motion, and is then held for 15-30 seconds in the farthest position that can be held without pain. By stretching in this way, you can improve muscular balance and your resting posture.
Fascial release techniques:
Applying compression to the affected site induces a bio-electric and bio-chemical response that changes the connective myo-fascia from a semi-solid state into a more viscous or fluid state, freeing it to glide smoothly against adjoining tissues. Often, once the fascia is released the underlying muscles will relax.
All types of flexibility training will be more effective after a thorough warm-up, when the body temperature is elevated. Choose activities that serve two functions: relaxation and flexibility. This does not mean that the entire time has to be spent stretching.
Methods of Improving Flexibility
Methods of Improving Flexibility
- Tai Chi
- Manipulative Therapy
One of the most notable benefits of theses methods is that it promotes muscular relaxation and because of this, can lessen lower back pain. Since those muscles are commonly contracted throughout the day, whether sitting or doing activities, they can become stressed and cause pain. Becoming more flexible in the hamstrings, hip flexors, quadriceps and other muscles can help reduce that stress on the lower back and reduce the tightening that causes pain.
Yoga and pilates also increases the blood supply to muscle tissues, and your entire body delivering essential nutrients through your blood stream. It also increases joint synovial fluid, the lubricating fluid that promotes the transportation of nutrients to your joints. This allows for a greater range of motion, less joint pain and a reduced risk of joint degeneration.
Better Overall Health and Vitality can be achieved through above methods. You will notice less pain, improved movement, reduced muscle soreness, and improved physical performance. The feeling of well-being, and vitality you will notice as a result of a regular flexibility routine can provide many important health benefits.
“Stretching is not just a part of a workout, it can be a workout by itself.”
Try and avoid some common triggers if you suffer from chronic pains of Arthritis, Crohn’s disease, or Fibromyalgia.
1. Changes in the Weather
The extreme weather change from hot to cold or cold to hot can affect various chronic pain types. This is especially true when your pain is related to your joints and muscles, such as with arthritis or Fibromyalgia.
Most of my clients suffering from chronic pains keep a pain journal and record everything that occurred on the days when they had a significant flare-up. I suggest you do that too because it helps you record if your neck or knee pains worsen when it rains or gets extremely cold compared to other days. Knowing if the change in weather will increase your pain, helping you prepare for the future.
2. High Levels of Stress
Everyone experiences stress, but some can handle stress better than others. If you have chronic conditions like Crohn’s disease, the stress can impact your pain and cause painful flare-ups.
People also experience stress due to chronic pain, especially when you have migraines or stomach problems from Crohn’s. Reversely, you notice that work stress or personal issues can aggravate the pain. The good news is when you know the triggers for your pain and stress, you are well prepared to overcome pains with proper stress relief methods that have worked for you.
3. Hormonal Changes in Women
Concerning women, a notable flare trigger for chronic pain can be when you have hormonal changes during different times of life. Pre-menstrual syndrome, where your pain is worse when you are about to start your period, or you might experience more pain as you head toward menopause. This is another good reason to keep a pain journal because it helps you notice these patterns and be more prepared for the potential triggers.
4. Eating Inflammatory Foods
Suppose your pain is related to your digestive systems, such as Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome. In that case, You should be following an anti-inflammatory diet as it helps to reduce this trigger.
Ensure you AVOID the following inflammatory foods. Your body will thank you.
- Butter or eat real butter in less quantity.
- Red meat includes steak and hamburgers, processed meats like sausage, bacon, hot dogs.
- Fried foods like french fries, potato chips, shortening, and margarine.
- Refined carbs like white bread and pasta, white rice, white potatoes, and pastries.
- Alcohol and sweetened soda beverages.
Ensure you CONSUME the following Anti-inflammatory foods.
- Fruits: Consume plenty of tomatoes, cherries, oranges, blueberries, and strawberries. Luckily, these are all delicious and easy to add to cereal, yogurt, oatmeal, smoothies, and eating as a light snack.
- Green leafy vegetables: Regularly consume spinach and kale.
- Nuts & Seeds: Consume a thumb size of walnuts and almonds every day. You can add pumpkin seeds and pine seeds on top of salads or eat a light snack with cheese. Healthy fats like olive oil are delicious to cook with or use for a light dressing.
You can make a smooth transition to help with your chronic pain by making slight adjustments to your current diet, like replacing a steak with chicken for dinner, adding more leafy greens on the side with your preferred meal, and make a smoothie every morning for breakfast.
How Yoga and Pilates Help With Chronic Pain
An exercise is generally good for chronic pain. Still, for specific types, specialized yoga practices help decrease certain pain types, like shoulder, back, or neck pain, and the relaxation you get can also teach you to manage stress. Simultaneously Pilates on reformers assist in joints’ movements and increase circulations within the joints, reducing stiffness and pains.
When you want to use yoga for your chronic pain, you should first consider the type of yoga you do. While all yoga forms can be beneficial, certain types are useful for people struggling with physical pain. Check out the recommended Abbysan Yoga classes that help with chronic pains.
Yoga – Restorative, Back Flow, Yoga Core, Back Care.
Pilates – Core Recovery, Shoulder Clinic, Spine Clinic, Hip Clinic, Total Body.
One of the best types of yoga for pain is restorative yoga, which aligns with your physical and mental well-being. The movements are not complicated or overly advanced, so they are suitable even for beginners.
You can try restorative yoga at home with our online video or visit our studio for in-person guidance.