I’ve chosen to talk about my least favorite part of recovery, stretching. I never really liked doing it. But as I’ve aged and my muscles progressively become less flexible, I’ve seen the absolute necessity of it. Functional flexibility is the goal!
Functional Flexibility and Functional Fitness
Exercise and movement in general have become the key to maintaining my functionality as I age. Stretching has become an integral part of that. When I was a college athlete, stretching was a quick routine prior to starting a run. Now, I’ve seen the benefit of active stretching before any kind of exercise. Active stretching is really just moving your muscles through space to get them ready for an upcoming workout. 10 – 15 minutes of warm up is usually what works best. Active stretching exercises can consist of a number of things.
I personally like walking lunges, hip and shoulder openers with an exercise band or tubing and “Tin Soldiers” (walking toe touches). We show all our clients at the Pittsburgh Fitness Project how to do a routine of hip and shoulder openers. We especially make sure to go through them before every workout or class/small group training session to prepare for their upcoming workout.
After working out, comes the dreaded passive stretching and foam rolling. I have a chronic hip issue from almost 40 years of competitive running. So, I’ve learned how essential this part has become. Usually when I’m done running or working out, I’m done. Making this a routine part of my workout has given big dividends, however. I have less soreness and hip “achiness” the next day. Not to mention better mobility. Foam rolling also frees and prevents any small adhesions that may contribute to muscle tightness. I have lots of these from years of running. A regular routine of rolling out after a workout keeps my muscles more supple and functional the next day.
My Favorite Functional Flexibility Recovery Routine
My favorite stretching and recovery routine has become yoga. I started taking Active Recovery Yoga here at the Pittsburgh Fitness Project every Sunday. And found it to be such a benefit that I’ve had our instructor give me a private session at home once a week as well. Last week, I had to work a lot at both my pediatric practice and handle business issues at the gym. Meaning I didn’t exercise much. I found myself, and my hip in particular, getting stiff despite the lack of activity. The restorative poses and stretches from yoga really helped loosen my hip. Even if it was just from the daily time that I was sitting during work.
I hope this blog is helpful. Join us on Sunday mornings at 10 AM for Active Recovery Yoga with Stef Zito. She starts off each class with requests to see what areas of your body need attention. It’s a great start to the upcoming week!
The Old Man Series
In my Old Man Series, I’ll talk about various modes of self care and recovery. And how that can impact our daily routines and ability to be functionally flexible and fit. As a result, we can chase the grand kids, our furry friends or just go on a hike. Our massage therapist, Claudia, will also offer her perspective each month as part of the series. Just because we age doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep living the way we want to!
In the meantime, check out our PFP Pass. This pass is perfect for those ready to become functionally flexible and fit!