Do you think you’re ‘naturally’ inflexible? That you’ll never nail that mohawk transition? Well, think again!
Yesterday I learnt a great fact about stretching which drilled in the critical role of flexibility training in your routine.
When you stretch a muscle, you feel a resistance as you reach the limit of your flexibility. However, this isn’t a physical limitation.
That resistance is a reflex caused by warning signals from your brain. These signals tell the muscle to tense up, because the range of the movement is perceived as a potential danger. Ironically, it’s this tenseness which can cause damage if you try to stretch the muscle beyond this point. If it weren’t for these messages from your brain, the muscle would stay relaxed and would be capable of stretching far further.
When you continually stretch a muscle bit by bit, day by day, you will begin to see an improvement in flexibility. You will be able to go a little bit further each time.
What is happening here is that you are gradually training your brain that a particular position is safe. You are pushing the threshold at which your brain panics and tells the muscle to lock down.
What does this mean? It means that the only thing stopping you from getting up right now and doing the splits is your brain’s safety mechanism! No matter who you are, you can improve your flexibility simply through persistant practice.
If you stretch out on a regular basis, you will see enormous gains in your mobility and flexibility. You’ll be able to get into positions you never thought you would, and gracefully pull off skating techniques you’d always struggled with.
So, the next time you see a team-mate casually mohawk, or chase the duck, or tie herself in a knot… Remember, the only thing stopping you is your own mind.