Natural flow flexibility
Quite recently I came up with a, to me, new concept of flexibility training that’s perfectly suited for those who struggle to stick with a flexibility routine. Not only is it great for those who have motivational issues concerning flexibility, it’s also a perfect way of relax yourself and get rid of stress. I call it ‘natural flow flexibility’.
The idea is rather simple and it perfectly fits with one of my key thoughts on working out, namely the best way to work out is the way you prefer. What you do with this flexibility training technique is follow your instinct and stretch whatever and however you feel like stretching. There are only two rules. The first one is to move in a controlled matter, thereby taking into account your own safety to not override a flexibility limit. As with regular stretching, it should never hurt. The second rule is that your main goal should be to relax your body. See it as an active form of meditation or mindfulness rather than training.
How to do it?
It’s the most rudimentary form of training I think. Before you start using this relaxation and flexibility technique you either already know what areas you want to work on first or you’ll soon find out. If you have a stiff back start with that, simply by lying on the floor and move in such a way that it stops hurting or isn’t as stiff anymore. At all times, use a controlled technique and really ‘listen’ to your body. I know, it sounds very touchy feely, but it’s a great experience.
If you’re more advanced you’ll know what feeling you have to look for when it comes to trying to become more flexible. If you’re a beginner, a good rule of thumb is that you should find tension in your body and stay in a certain position that allows you to feel the tension fade away. In contrary to other stretching techniques, you shouldn’t try to override the tension directly but rather go for the feeling you get when you stretch yourself out when you yawn. It’s a very natural thing to do and that many animals do, including us humans. It all shouldn’t take a lot of effort and should come very natural. Don’t think about if what you’re doing is actually working, you’ll know it’s working as soon as you find the right spots. A simple trick is to move in against the stress, so sort of go look for the tension.
Take a cat or a dog as an example. They roll on the floor, stretch themselves out and simply do what comes naturally. Nobody ever taught them how to stretch out or how to roll, they just follow their instinct. Even though some may get offended by this, we human beings behave on instincts more than we care to admit too. Take advantage of that and become flexible without any effort. Because if it’s taking effort, you’re not doing it right.
Once you’ve stretched the more tight spots, go from there to either find new tight spots or simply stretch the muscle you want to work on. Even though you don’t need to a proper stretching routine, it can still be useful to use stretches that help you reach your goal. If you want to do the splits, work on those muscles too. Both upper and lower body exercises can be used. Feel free to use some contractions of muscles to make the stretch feel more natural and you’re ready to go.
Some useful guidelines to help you out:
– Take 5 – 10 minutes a day to use this technique.
– The perfect moments to use this technique is before going to bed, whenever you feel tight and stressed out and in the morning.
– As with static stretching, do NOT use this technique as part of a warm up as it’ll take you out of the ‘competitive mindset’ and simply relaxes your body too much.
– Feel free to use techniques you’ve been using in your normal stretching techniques, yoga or similar training styles.
– Follow a, for you, logical order and execution of the exercises.
– Start with the areas where you feel the most tightness and go from there to see what other spots bother you.
– You can use a foam roller as you would do with myofascial release stretching.
– At all times, breathe in deep and breathe out properly.
– Massaging can be used throughout the technique if you can’t seem to find a proper movement to get rid of the tension.
– Let the tension fade away or repeat the movements a couple of times until the tension is gone or has lessened.
I think the great benefits of this ‘training style’ are that it can’t really be considered training as it’s more about relaxation. No need to count the seconds you have to hold a set of stretches, no need to do a thorough warm up and no competitive factor that you would have with more conventional stretching techniques. Every workout can be different; it just depends on what you feel like doing on that particular day at that particular moment.
For me personally it worked great for neck and lower back issues. I tend to work behind the computer a lot or read a book and then get into a weird position. That causes a lot of tension, which I can easily get rid of using this technique, without using particular exercises.
There you have it, a different stretching technique than the ones I’ve shown so far. I’m not sure if someone else has come up with this technique before but I’m not really looking for fame to start with. If it gets to the big public just quote me and I’ll be glad to let you use it and show it to others!