Mary's Weekly Challenge
How capable are you of reaching down to pick something off the floor or up to the top shelf of a high cupboard? Or perhaps fastening a zip on the back of a dress? All these actions require you to have a fair amount of flexibility in the body and that is what we are going to focus on this week.
The true definition of flexibility is the ‘Range of Movement’ around a joint (your ROM) and this can easily be tested according to your age for both your upper body and lower body. These tests are demonstrated in our video in the Ageing Well - Exercise section of the website (or go to p 273 of The 28-Day Immunity Plan book for the description of the testing procedure.)
I remember when teaching aerobic classes in the 80s and early 90s, as we were becoming much more aware of the importance of stretching, that some class members would actually leave the room at the start of the flexibility section saying it is too slow and boring! Thankfully, we are much more enlightened these days yet many of us probably still do not stretch often enough or long enough to give us the full benefits.
There are many reasons why stretching regularly is so good for us:
• It improves our ability to carry out everyday tasks
• It encourages good posture: Regularly stretching the back of the thighs (hamstrings) aids good alignment of the pelvis. Stretching the chest muscles (pectorals) is good for our shoulder alignment.
• It reduces aches and pains particularly as we get older. Soft tissue becomes less 'elastic' as we age, increasing even further the need for regular stretching.
• It reduces muscle soreness after exercise encouraging relaxation and good blood flow to post-exercise 'tight' muscles.
• Stretching reduces our risk of injury and helps us to recover more quickly when we are injured.
Some people are naturally more flexible than others but no matter where our start point is, it will definitely improve when practised regularly.
For this week’s challenge I am encouraging you to test your upper and lower body flexibility both at the start of the week and again at the end. If you find you are scoring below average on the charts according to your age then by practising the test as well as doing the six stretches mentioned below, you will undoubtedly improve your ROM by the end of the week. Give it a go!