Are you one of those women who, despite years of dance and gymnastics lessons growing up, can no longer touch her toes?
You’re not alone.
Flexibility after 40 is a quality-of-life issue for women. While you may not think of it as such, flexibility contributes significantly to being comfortable in your own body.
And while we may not have a reason to show off our splits anymore, flexibility remains a key indicator of wellness.
Maintaining flexibility after 40 tracks with injury prevention as we age.
Flexibility allows our bodies to perform optimally in both sport-specific situations and everyday tasks.
I’m sure we can all think of a friend who has injured herself while doing some seemingly playful task. Maybe it’s a torn hamstring while kicking the soccer ball around with the kids. Or perhaps it’s a tweaked back from carrying groceries in from the car.
These are the types of injuries that when we were younger we swore we’d never get. And, yet, here we are.
Before you go thinking that I mean you have to be doing an hour of yoga every day, let me stop you right there.
Your flexibility routine can be quick and simple…
- roll your shoulders back 5 times every time you sit down (take some deep breaths while you do it, just because it feels good)
- wake up your ankles by drawing the alphabet in the air with your toes while you’re on a call at work
- stretch the back of your body by tying your shoes standing up, bending your knees as necessary (this bend will decrease over time)
- open your chest by draping your arms over the back of the couch as you’re bingeing on Netflix
- sneak in a little body contact with your surly teenager by holding on to his shoulder so you can balance as you stretch your quad by bending a knee back and grabbing the top of the foot
What else contributes to flexibility after 40?
Hydration is a big contributor to flexibility. If your body isn’t well hydrated, your muscles aren’t going to move as smoothly. These are muscles that are prone to strain. When the muscles strain, you feel pain.
Being well hydrated keeps the muscles supple. Easy as that.
Finding new ways to move your body will improve your flexibility. Think about it: the movement patterns you use in swimming are different from those used in tennis and different again from those used in walking. Each of these movement patterns challenges your body in a new way, forcing it to adapt.
One of these adaptations is flexibility.
So rather than rushing through the end of your next workout, take a few minutes to enjoy some stretching….and all the benefits flexibility can offer.
Not sure where to start? Check out my favorite supine stretching sequence.