How to Become More Flexible: One Simple Tip

One thing you can do every day for 5-10 minutes to painlessly increase flexibility

 

There are a million articles and courses on how to become more flexible. Truth is, if there were a set of “best stretches” that worked for everyone then we would all be Gumby. There is no magic pill to increase flexibility. There is no perfect stretch.

But there is one thing that everyone can do (though many of us don’t) that reliably improves mobility, or at least prevents that creeping stiffness that we dread.

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The one thing that reliably helps us become more flexible is to move our bodies through our entire active range of motion at least once every day.

Notice, I said move through your full range of motion. Not stretch.

What Makes a Body Flexible?

Relaxing into a passive stretch (a stretch that requires you to relax into the lengthening muscle) can work to slowly increase the resting length of a muscle and some people find it pleasant and relaxing for their nervous system. However for most people, most of the time, the limiting factor in flexibility isn’t the length of their muscles and connective tissue.

The limiting factor in flexibility is the nervous system.

When we move any joint past the body’s comfortable range the nervous system interprets that movement as dangerous. Everyone has a different level of sensitivity to increased range of motion. Some people’s bodies are very comfortable in a smaller range of motion… thank you very much. Some people (hello my fellow hypermobile hotties) have to constantly be on the alert for over-stretching. Or anything in between.

Either way, the most effective tool we have to safely increase flexibility, wherever you are in the vast spectrum of bendiness, is to work with the nervous system to make it less nervous by increasing control of your available range.

How Does Flexibility Training Work?

Training the nervous system to be more flexible is like training a dog to jump through a hoop. At first the dog is scared of the hoop. You have to get the dog to feel good about the hoop, then gradually introduce the trick. If you only work on dog training once in a while the dog forgets what she learned in the last lesson. You have to train your dog every day until she knows that hoop trick cold.

Our nervous system is the dog. If you only take your shoulders to their end range of motion every once in a while, your shoulders are never going to learn to be safe at that end range. Every time it will feel like hell.

This end range of motion exploration doesn’t have to be a massive, time-consuming, painful, stressful experience. Again, this is not about stretching. This is just movement to end range, using your muscles to get into all the nooks and crannies of your joints.

Every day.

Or at least as often as your crazy life allows.

Full Range of Movement Creates Flexibility

Movement is how our body knows itself. Awareness is necessary for the body to feel safe. The perception of safety is necessary for flexibility to feel relaxed and accessible.

Your Flexibility Protocol: Spend 5-10 minutes/day (it doesn’t have to be all at once you can spread it out) moving your body gently but firmly as far as you can in each direction, through each joint. Don’t push into anything, just explore what your body can do without pain or discomfort.

For a helpful little morning full range of motion flexibility routine you can check out my beloved morning stretch video below.

Happy Bendings!

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