Lots of us do cardio exercise like running and cycling or lift heavy weights in the gym. We often forget about our flexibility. Flexibility is a very important part of staying fit and is probably the most overlooked aspect of fitness.
Flexibility conjures up images of people doing back bends or twisting their legs around their neck. In fact flexibility is required in lots of our daily activities such as walking, bending and lifting. Flexibility is defined as our joints ability to move through their full range of motion and being flexible allows your muscles to remain mobile.
Are You Sitting All Day?
If we sit at a desk all day we aren’t putting our joints through motions and so it is easy to lose flexibility in our joints. In addition, as we get older we become less flexible. When we become less flexible we become more prone to injuries such as muscle tears, joint aches and pains. In my office, so many people suffer from back and shoulder pains, many of which I believe could be prevented by doing regular stretching and flexibility exercises.
It's Not Just For Your Joints
As well as keeping your joints mobile and preventing injuries, keeping flexible has several other benefits.
Posture – Nobody wants to end up with a hunch back. By adding flexibility exercises to your life, your posture will improve. If you are sitting down all day you probably find yourself slouching a lot – I know I do! Stretching will help your posture by realigning tissue and this in turn reduces the effort it takes for your body to retain good posture.
Muscle Soreness – After training hard, your muscles will probably ache a bit. Incorporating flexibility exercises/stretches into the end of your workout will help to reduce muscle soreness and fatigue. If I have a good stretch at the end of a tough gym session, I very rarely ache the next day.
Relaxing Body and Mind – Stretching and flexibility exercise classes like yoga help to relax your body and mind. This has physical as well as emotional benefits. When we are stressed or hunched up all day we are tensing our muscles. It is important to allow our body to relax.
Be Patient with Your Body
If you want to improve your flexibility it is sensible to build stretching into your daily life. You could wake up 5 minutes earlier each morning or do some simple stretches before you go to bed. Websites such as You Tube have plenty of videos of stretching exercises. Alternatively you could do yoga classes. Don’t be scared about going to a yoga class – yoga is for everyone (old, young, bendy and not very bendy!). When you stretch or take part in yoga make sure you listen to your body. You should never feel pain and you should always work within your capability. Flexibility is not going to improve over night, so be patient and listen to your body. You will feel the benefits after a few weeks - I guarantee you will notice improved posture and your limbs will feel longer and supple!
Recipe of the Day
Blueberry Apple Thyme Galette
It happens to the best of us- sometimes the kitchen gets a little bit empty and we run low on ingredients. Sometimes there is little time in the morning to prepare breakfast, but we are just craving something warm and comforting (like on these overcast, late winter days). So, flexibility and creativity comes in!!!
This gallette breakfast is not only super easy to make, but it is gluten free, sugar free, and can be dairy free (if you so desire).
1 cup gluten free flour (we used 1/2 cup cornmeal mixed with 1/2 cup buckwheat flour)
5 Tbsp organic butter, slightly softened (you could use coconut oil or ghee to make a vegan version)
3 Tbsp cold water
1 apple, sliced thinly
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 lemon, juiced
1 tsp fresh thyme (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. In a food processor, pulse the flour and butter (or coconut oil) together. Add the water gradually. This should form a granular mixture.
3. Remove from the food processor and form into a ball.
4. Ideally (as in making any pastry crust) you would want to chill this in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. BUT, we were in a hurry and just skipped this part.
5. Prepare the filling- mix together the sliced apples with lemon juice, cinnamon and thyme.
6. Roll the dough out (best to put it on a piece of parchment paper) so that it is thin and resembles a circular shape.
7. Place the apples and blueberries in the center. Carefully fold the edges in.
8. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned.
9. Delicious served with some coconut yogurt, sheep or goat milk yogurt, or some rice or almond milk!