I’m 43 years old this year and one thing that I’ve discovered about aging is that my body requires more and more maintenance. It’s become more and more like an older car that needs a lot more tinkering and regular maintenance in order to run close to what it used to. I’ve actually started flossing this year…which is something I always used to want to do whenever the dentist or dental hygienist would ask me about it and I’d sheepishly reply that I didn’t do it. Well…my gums decided that they weren’t messing around anymore and my dentist explained what was ahead of me if I didn’t get more regular with my flossing and so…I’m working on adding that to my morning and evening routines instead of just doing it once or twice a month.
So…what does this have to do with mobility routines?
I’ve always had tight muscles, but as I’ve gotten older, they’ve gotten tight enough to cause me problems. I’ve had ITBS, which is a problem where your iliotibial band becomes painfully tight and pulls on your knee. I’ve had plantar fasciitis, which is an issue where the tissue on the bottom of the foot becomes tight, inflamed, and painful. When I was pregnant, I had issues with sciatica, which is pain from the sciatic nerve becoming compressed, usually by tight hip muscles. Now that I’m older, I tend to get stiff and sore more easily and my muscles and joints take longer to warm up and open up.
A mobility routine is a lot like my flossing habit that I’m working on…it’s developing a habit of regular stretching and movement that helps ease and prevent issues like these.
The key is to do specific stretches that target the parts of your body that you have the most issues and do them for a short period of time every day. Before bed is a great time to do this. I usually do a few hip opening yoga poses every night before I go to sleep. I can do them right in my bed and they become part of my bedtime routine. I’ve recently started adding some stretches to open up my shoulders. The idea isn’t to spend a lot of time in these poses or stretches unless it feels good or to spend a long amount of time doing different stretches or poses. The idea is just to consistently do a few stretches that work on the parts of your body that tend to get the most tight and to do it in a way that you can stick with it without much trouble. Ten to fifteen minutes is what we’re going for here.
If you’re unsure about what stretches or poses to do, a quick google search on the body area and stretches or asking your physical therapist, chiropractor, or yoga instructor can get you what you need.
As with many things in life, it’s more important to do a little bit regularly than to try to do a whole lot at once. And like a lot of things to do with our bodies, it becomes more and more important the older we get. Younger bodies are just more forgiving of neglect.