Our bodies have evolved to do a lot more than just walk in a straight line and sit in a chair, yet this is about the extent that most of us use our bodies. Sure, some of us run or lift weights or cycle which are all great, but even these tend to be in a fairly fixed range of motion.
We end up neglecting a lot of our bodies’ mobility which is a shame. When you use your body as a whole, you tend to feel really great and you avoid the atrophy of a sedentary lifestyle which can lead to long-term pain.
Look at cats and dogs, they instinctively know the importance of stretching. You won’t find any idea of dignity preventing them from stretching in the strangest poses. As a result they tend to stay spry until the end.
Thankfully there are plenty of resources out there like yoga and pilates which will help you learn to move properly. But you can do just fine without any of those as well. Try the following:
- Do freeform stretching. Don’t worry about looking up specific stretches, just sit on the floor and move around and find what feels good. Contort in strange ways. You will probably find that these stretches you never do feel really good.
- Do some dynamic movements. Do some bear walks and crab walks. When is the last time you did those? If they feel strange, that means there is plenty of room for improvement! While us humans don’t walk on all fours, these movements can get all of your joints involved which is great.
- Try targeted stretches of anywhere you feel tight. For anyone sitting most of the day, the hips and chest are good ones. Do the butterfly stretch you were probably taught in elementary school and hold that for a few minutes. It’ll do a world of good.
The most important thing is that when you do these, you fully commit. For most people this is easiest done in your own home just on a yoga mat or carpet. While none of us should care, it’s hard to not draw attention to yourself as a grown-ass adult doing a happy baby pose in the middle of the gym. But in the freedom of your home, stretch to your body’s content.
And try to do it daily. Keeping spry is a lifelong marathon, not a sprint. It doesn’t need to take 20 minutes, just spend at least a few minutes a day.