As winter sets in here in Australia, many of us will inevitably spend more time sitting, huddled up in the evenings and maybe not doing the full range of physical activities we pursue in the warmer months. Now, I know this won’t apply to everyone but, in particular, I’m addressing the cold haters… you know who you are!
This lack of moving has no rewards. Your body doesn’t need to be huddled up. And we’re not hibernators. There, I said it!
With a lack of incidental mobility, flexibility will in turn take a hit and this causes problems.
I’m actually writing this straight after a training session with a client who has just had a week off work. His biggest issues today were his hamstrings and hip flexors. He did stay active during his work break and in fact he did a 12km walk a couple days earlier but, his sitting quotient rose considerably over the week, despite his higher than usual physical activity. An extra couple of hours of exercise in way balances out an extra 30+ hours sitting when he’d normally be on his feet at work. It’s not a criticism, it’s just what happens when when we remove mobility, purposeful or incidental.
Getting back on topic – flexibility. It’s a controversial subject that causes riffs in the strength conditioning world. Many trainers will shun ‘doing stretches’ whilst others will proclaim it’s a high agenda component of recovery post exercise.
The reality, it’s probably somewhere in the middle of priorities for the average population but as we age, or become less active such in the colder months, its importance rises.
The benefits of flexibility are so great that training experts like Ian King call flexibility the last frontier of human performance. King also said:
Flexibility, generally speaking, is the most important physical quality. The impact of the flexibility on all other physical qualities is greater than the one of any other single physical quality. Flexibility potentially improves strength, speed and endurance more than any of these qualities impact on the other. In addition, I believe of all physical qualities, this one has the greatest impact on injury prevention. Flexibility training also potentially has the greatest contribution to recovery of all the physical qualities.”
(cited from this article: https://breakingmuscle.com/mobility-recovery/flexibility-is-like-any-other-discipline-it-takes-discipline)
So, what’s a reasonable action we can all take? I say reasonable because I could very well list 6-10 stretches to do in the evening and after whatever exercise you are doing but ‘nah’, you’ll probably not do them. Instead, I want to share what is in my opinion, the best of all stretches for unravelling our bodies tension from all the poor postures we put ourselves into.
Enter The Brettzel…
Brett Jones and Gray Cook introduced the world to this stretch in 2008 and it has slowly spread around the training circles. It’s a simple shape to get into although it may still be challenging to some. It will help reduce tensions but also helps us to identify asymmetries and imbalances in all the corners of the body.
Without further nattering from me, here are a couple of videos of the Brettzel. I would really encourage you to play with this simple stretch. Don’t go to pain and if you can’t breath properly, you shouldn’t be in that position. If concerned, just drop me a message.
Here’s another version of the Bretzel:
So, instead of huddling up, learn the Brettzel… maybe in front of a heater!