Sunday, July 09, 2006

Law # 10 ~ Flexibility

Flexibility is the fountain of youth! Flexible people are much less prone to injury. Yoga and stretching allow you to bring more intensity to your workouts. Flexibility is the key component to becoming less vulnerable and more durable. Aging has a funny way of making everything we do harder. Staying limber and flexible is the way to prevent that from happening.

When I was a young lad there was no such thing as stretching, really. When I heard the word yoga I thought people were mispronouncing yogurt. Come to think of it I didn’t know what yogurt was either. Some kind of healthy sour milk. Nasty! (I love it now!)

Back in the ‘60s (yes, I’m that old) there were benchmarks that determined how fit you were. Push-ups, pull-ups, dips, sit-ups (not crunches), the 100-yard dash, and whether or not you could touch your toes. The first five items on the list involved strength and speed. Some kids had it while others did not. I was in the “did not” category. (That changed later). Touching your toes was a breeze for all of us. Even out-of-shape kids like me could touch their toes.

When you’re young (no matter what kind of shape you’re in) you’re naturally flexible and durable. Kids get scrapes, bruises, even broken bones, but it’s pretty rare for a young child to pull a muscle, and if they do they recover in the blink of an eye. Back in the good old days, the focus was on running faster and jumping higher. The only kids in my neighborhood that stretched were gymnasts or ballerinas. Try to imagine a stretch class for children in the ‘60s. Yeah, right!

Back in the day, proper stretching didn’t happen. For most adults it still doesn’t. Studies show that pulled muscles (due to lack of flexibility) cause as many people to quit their fitness programs as joint injuries. Back and hamstring muscle strain/injury can take as long to heal as a broken bone….or longer.

People hate to stretch because they say it’s too boring. They feel that stiff, tight people can’t become loose and flexible. They say that stretching and yoga are too uncomfortable, and they don’t see results fast enough. People don’t like it because it cuts into their workout time. I’m here to tell you that it’s time to rethink the importance of flexibility.

Stretching, yoga, and Pilates improve overall body awareness, enhance all aspects of physical fitness, reduce muscular soreness, increase skill and performance levels during training, and during athletic performance. Flexibility increases mental relaxation, greatly reduces the risks of various injuries (like back problems, muscle strains, and joint sprains), and slows the aging process in muscles and joints. Who wouldn’t want all that?

The only reason why people don’t become more flexible is because they’re not willing to put in the time. The axiom for other aspects of fitness also applies to flexibility: You get better at the things you do often. Stretching and/or yoga are equally as important as strength conditioning and cardiovascular fitness. Stretching and yoga can replenish the natural flexibility and durability of our youth. If you decide and commit to becoming less vulnerable through flexibility, you will also discover a calmness (much like meditation) that comes with stretching and yoga.

Flexibility is the Fountain of Youth. Give yourself that amazing gift. Here’s to touching your toes.

7 comments:

AlfaSunshine said...

I got a question. Is one hour of yoga a week sufficient? I am gonna remember to be in chat today and ask you. I am in the middle of a new round of si6 so I have committed to doing a full body workout about an hour a day (there is about a 6 minute stretch yoga part at the end that I usually just do my TH style vinyasa and sb yoga ctr yin stuff then). I'm thinking on my rest day doing stretchX or the first 40 minutes or so of yogax. Lord knows my age is showing around my yin muscles.

DivaM said...

I'm with Alpha on this one. I am doing P-90 and some running (3 days a week 2-4 miles or so). I warm up really good before I run. I do an X style warm up, 10 min or so. After I run I usually go straight into P-90 3/4 Sculpt. I do the whole thing stretching and all. Then I add pull ups to the end of each set (4 sets of 10 pull ups for the total workout). So how often should I do Yoga X or the like? BTW, I am fairly flexible, have been since I was a kid (I'm going to be 38 in August)

Thanks TH!

Diva

psalm9567 said...

Tony,

I was AMAZED the first time I did Yoga X, at how flexible you are. Sometimes, I just had to stop and watch, especially on the plough sequence. It made my respect for your athletic ability go even higher. So, you're not just a pretty face and some biceps!! :) You're a rubber band!! I have been working at getting some of that flexibility back! I used to have lower back problems, but started taking a Body Balance class when I lived overseas (a combo of Tai Chi, Pilates, and Yoga). I was amazed at how my lower back pain and sensitivity went away.

When we moved back to the States, I had not done any kind of yoga movement and felt the stiffness again in my hammies and back. After starting Power 90 last year, and now the X, I am re-gaining a lot of that flexibility and am even coming out on the other side being able to do more. I can finally do the "grab-behind-the-back-and-between-the-legs" pose! I can't hold it as long as you all, but on day four, I couldn't do it at all!! So, thanks for this law.

And I, too, am a bit of a grumbler that your yoga is 1.5 hours. But, I do love it and have seen the benefits. I just get up a little earlier on those days. Thanks again...

My next challenge is crane...Saw you, Diva, and your daughter doing that! Way to go!

Sarah/psalm9567

DivaM said...

Thanks Sarah! That little girl has met Tony and she has even done Yoga X with me all the way through! She is a rock solid little six year old I tell ya! She can even bang out pushups and un assisted pull ups.

Austin is doing P-90 with me right now and we added in the pull ups. He did his first unassisted pull up last Saturay! We are on day 37 now and he could not come close on day one!

Congrats on hitting day 30! Love the bikini shots :D

Thanks Sarah!

P-90 is amazing! Simple and so AMAZING!

Thanks again Tony!

Tony B said...

AMEN Brotha..
Without a doubt..I would not be where I am today without Yoga and Stretching..I practice them faithfully and strive to instill it in all my clients.. It's a very important aspect of fitness for me, probably the most important..
Flexibility is the key to aging gracfully and essential to ward off the effects of aging..
These 58 year old bones still creak and and squeak but I just keep chuggin along ..
Thanks T. for showing me the way...
See you Friday ay NY CAMP..
Peace
Tony B>>>>>>>>> XRAYMAN

Laura said...

That is so true Tony- I am more flexible now since I started BeachBody Fitness over 2 years ago and can do so many things that I hadn't been able to do before.

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