The Truth About Flexibility And Why You Are Likely Wasting Your Efforts Part 5
By VIDA Trainer
Erik Strouse, MS
Hello folks! Over the past several months I have been writing on flexibility and mobility. I am here to complete the series today. As a quick recap, your number one priority is self-myofascial release, better known as foam rolling, followed by dynamic stretching, and then static stretching. To finish off the process, you have to strengthen your newfound flexibility so that muscular imbalances do not revert you back to your inflexible state.
As you may recall, I mentioned that tight muscles are a product of overuse or underuse, and most people fall into the underuse category from sitting down all day. In fact, sitting down in chairs is probably one of the worst things we have done to ourselves over the course of time when it comes to quality of movement, range of motion, and flexibility. Simply put, if strength training is not an easy thing for you to work into your lifestyle at the present time, find a way to switch to a standing desk. Standing desks will by default start to improve your posture, and thus work out some of the kinks you have in your mobility/flexibility.
Lets say, however, that a standing desk is less plausible, but resistance training is easier to obtain. Before I explain how resistance training will benefit you here, I want to throw out there that not all resistance training has to be bench presses and squats under heavy weight. In fact, traditional lifting like what is stereotyped can actually WORSEN mobility/flexibility if not directly addressed in the program. What I mean is, you have to stretch regularly while doing traditional lifting to ensure you do not lose range of motion and flexibility – PERIOD.
The reason this happens is because people hyper-focus on certain muscle groups such as pecs, biceps, and abs. They focus solely on the muscles they want to see appear bigger and better, and train the heck out of them until they start to change size and shape. However, they neglect many other muscles in the process. Further, these lifts are only performed in ONE DIMENSION. We move in THREE DIMENSIONS. Thusly, this makes for a lethal cocktail of immobility and decreased movement mechanics.
So, if you’re not doing traditional lifts like bench presses and squats, what other options are there? In the exercise science world, it is called Movement Training, Vector Training, and/or Functional Training. It has many names, but the objective of all of them is to move a resistance through Three Dimensional Space. Further, the load that you are moving is relatively “light” compared to traditional lifts due to the momentum and rotation the body will encounter.
Movement Training is going to help keep your hard earned flexibility in check because it will train each and every muscle in three dimensions within the natural chain of movement our bodies are designed to go through. It will strengthen joints that needed strengthening, it will keep mobile joints mobile, and it will provide valuable strength that is 100% applicable to every day life. This type of training is not easy to understand, because a basic to advanced understanding of movement mechanics is critical. So, going out there and learning this yourself is certainly possible, but you will likely benefit from working with a professional to advance your understanding. I strongly encourage people interested in quality of movement throughout their lifespan to start learning this now. Regular strength training could actually decrease your quality of movement! I have put together a short video to give you some basic examples of what this would look like. I will be putting together programs in the near future with this type of training for VIDA, so join my mailing list to get details as they launch. You can find links on my YouTube channel or you can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.