A few weeks ago, I wrote a post on the need for and importance of flexibility and core training for preventing low back pain.
In that post, I also referred to a “mystery” friend that helped me overcome years of frustrating lower back issues.
And although I’m not referring to that particular friend in this post, I do want to introduce you more formerly to another one of my “mystery” friends…
When it comes to flexibility and yoga, Lucas is the man I turn to.
Not only is he a great yoga instructor but he’s also a HUGE advocate that stretching alone will not increase your flexibility. He and I agree on this.
In fact, Lucas is predominantly raw vegan because he understands the massive impact a living, plant-based diet has on the body’s elasticity.
And so, in today’s post, I want to share a few flexibility secrets from both Lucas and myself.
And let me qualify this post as ESSENTIAL FOR EVERYONE.
It doesn’t matter what your goals, if your body isn’t flexible, then you’re not going to feel good, nor will you perform well. With that said, let’s get right into it…
Flexibility Secret #1 – Is Stretching Most Beneficial When Done Daily?
Can you see flexibility improvements with just 3 days per week?
Gains in flexibility involve biomechanical, neurological and molecular mechanisms that determine certain events within the muscle as a long-term result.
However, gains in flexibility can also be associated with increased tolerance to pain and increased elastic properties of the muscle-tendon units. For instance, if your body feels less pain, then you’ll be able to stretch farther. Makes sense, right?
But here’s something interesting worth considering…
In muscle strengthening, due to the muscle damage that takes place, a resting period of 36 to 48 hours is usually recommended between exercise sessions.
But what about stretching? Typically, stretching is seen a type of exercise that does NOT create muscle damage and thus can be done daily.
But what if stretching DOES create some degree of muscle damage? In that case, would we require similar rest intervals (as seen with strength training) of 36 to 48 hours between sessions in order to prevent excessive muscle breakdown?
Interesting stuff, I know.
And eventhough I do believe from personal experience (and a lot of the literature) that daily stretching is most beneficial…
A few studies have shown marked improvements in flexibility with just 3 static stretching sessions per week.
For example, a 2009 study published in the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research, 31 subjects who were previously unable to fully extend their leg were subjected to a basic static stretching protocol which consisted of the following:
- 2 hamstring stretches (seated with one leg outstretched, and standing reaching toward toes)
- 30-second stretch
- Repeated for 2 sets each
So, the good news is that you can notice significant improvements in your flexibility with just 3 stretching sessions per week (holding each stretch for at least 30 seconds).
And remember, we’re referring to static stretching – so this should be done after your body is warm, on its own or after your workout…not before your workout.
Flexibility Secret #2 – Food Can Make You Flexible
Did you know that certain foods can actually help improve your flexibility?
Indeed they can.
Unfortunately, I have yet to find any scientific studies proving this fact but I can tell you from anecdotal experience (from myself and with others) that the foods you eat directly impact the quality of your joints and tissues – both of which impact your flexibility and range of motion.
You see, different foods affect us in different ways.
Certain foods (mainly acidic foods) cause an inflammatory response in the body, which can cause stiffness in the joints, muscles, and connective tissue (damn IT band!).
As you know, anything from a package is suspect for high sodium, sugar and preservatives, all of which do not resonate with your body’s natural energy frequency and are thus not well metabolized in the body.
These “garbage” foods and food substances can be seen as a “stressor” to your body and as a result can induce tension and inflammation within you.
For instance, too much salt (sodium) can cause swelling in the joints as your body holds onto fluid in an attempt to dilute the blood and tissues. This leads to a tightening of your body.
If you’ve ever jammed a finger and experienced the subsequent “swelling”, you’ll understand how immobile that swollen finger becomes. The same thing happens in any area of your body.
So what’s the key to increasing your flexibility through food?
Well, it will probably come as no surprise to you:
- Reduce your consumption of acidic foods (grains, animal products, sugar, processed garbage)
- Alkalize your body by eating more raw plants foods
If you need help with this aspect of your flexibility (and diet) then be sure to grab a copy of my Eating for Energy program.
In the meantime, eating to enhance your flexibility is something most “western” practitioners will say is nonsense simply because there’s little evidence supporting it.
All I can tell you is that this is just something you need experience for yourself. I don’t know too many people that have added more raw foods to their diet (and minimized the other junk) who haven’t reported feeling less stiff and achy.
So those are 2 vital flexibility tips that I know can help you out. Stretching 3 times per week and eating a predominantly raw diet – it’s as easy as that.