Maybe The Flexibility Exercises Are Not Working Because…Stress

Maybe The Flexibility Exercises Are Not Working Because…Stress

“I know the pieces fit ’cause I watched them fall away.”
Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash

Ever feel like no matter how much flexibility or mobility work you do you’re just not getting any “looser”. The tension and pain in the body restricts you from doing certain things. Like, when walking around town you feel like a cowboy who just shat their pants and now tries to act cool like it didn’t happen. Well, it did happen. And it doesn’t look cool.

Maybe it’s not the flexibility exercises that are wrong, or that you’re not doing them enough. If you’ve done your best to eliminate the activities that make you tight (hello sitting hunched over a laptop) it’s worth observing your mind.

Hello mind. Remember me?

Enter stress. Not only can poorly managed psychological stress keep your muscles stiff, but it can also trigger and increase pain. As this study states about low back pain, “Having either stress or depression was also significantly associated with greater risk of flare-ups.”

When working with clients I see this highlighted most often in people dealing with the long-term annoyance of low back pain, frozen shoulder or neck pain. It’s not uncommon for them to have a flare up whenever they’re going through a stressful period in their life.

And regardless of what we do (often in conjunction with their allied health professional) sometimes there is only little improvement with pain and tension until the stress subsides.

If you’re dealing with persistent pain get diagnosed by an allied health professional first.

That’s your physio, chiro or osteo. I hate to be all doom and gloom, but you want to make sure the pain isn’t there because of something more sinister.

Besides, once cleared and diagnosed you’ve removed the added stress of worrying about the unknown.

Combine stress management with your training plan

Different tools for different minds. There is no a universal solution for each person. But here are few that I’ve found people having the most success with when managing stress.

  • Prioritise sleep. I know I said there are no universal solutions. But poor sleep is a major piece in why people feel like cowboys. Which makes sleep a universal solution.
  • Daily meditation or mindful breathing. Could be one minute, could be ten. Here’s my favourite no-nonsense meditation app.
  • Daily walks outside. If possible, somewhere away from traffic, concrete and excessive noise. So ideally avoid walking on a busy road that circles a highrise housing a kindergarten. Even short walks make a difference.
  • Laugh often. A short daily clip from Ricky Gervais should be prescribed as medicine.

Yes, working on flexibility is important

And we should keep at it. But sometimes we need to look beyond of what’s going on with our bodies. If we’re doing mobility exercises over and over again without seeing any change it’s worth checking what’s going in that mind of ours.

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