Three Clutch Habits For Increased Mobility and Flexibility

by Frost on January 24, 2012

*I’m on a two-month blogging vacation while I backpack around Southeast Asia. Until I return, I’m posting excerpts from my book, Freedom Twenty-Five: A 21st-Century Man’s Guide To Life. If you like this post, you should buy a copy for yourself and everyone you’ve ever met in your life.*   

Yoga

Yoga has exploded in every city big enough to have a traffic light. My initial attitude towards yoga was that it’s just a good stretch, dressed up in some flowery Eastern spirituality mumbo-jumbo. I still think that’s partially true, but now I also find that yoga does more than increase flexibility. It helps me focus, clears my head, calms me down, and slows my pace of thought (in a good way).

If you’re dealing with any kind of back stiffness or injury, yoga is essential. Whether or not you’re experiencing any nagging injuries that increased flexibility could improve though, I highly recommend you check out a month of classes.

Foam Rolling

A foam roller is an absolutely essential tool for the modern Aeron-bound office worker. Check out the Online Companion for some videos that will show you what a foam roller is and how to use one.

It’s used to work out tension in your muscles through myofascial release. It feels incredible, in a masochistic way, the same way a massage from a 300lb eastern European woman with the hands of a pre-op tranny can be excruciatingly pleasurable.

More importantly, it greatly increases your muscles’ potential flexibility, especially if you do it before and after working out. Many injuries are caused or exacerbated by poor flexibility – in my case, achilles tendonitis was the result of extremely limited calf range of motion – so adding foam rolling to your flexibility work will make you much more resilient.

Standing At Work

Sitting down for eight hours a day (and more if you commute, and then come home and sit down until bed time) is awful for you. It tightens up your leg muscles, reduces circulation, and increases your risk for a litany of medical conditions that reads like a medical encyclopedia.

If you work a 9-5 job, ask your boss or HR department if you can have a standing workstation installed. If your employer has a clue, they’ll say yes, and install a nifty desk that raises and lowers at the flip of a switch.

My employer said no. Their policy is that I would have had to wait until I had developed serious and recurring health problems, and then they would grant my request. I pointed out that I wanted a standing workstation to avoid such health problems. They countered with the argument that if I got one, everyone would want the same privilege. I thought, god forbid you should have a healthy and happy workforce.

So I don’t work there anymore. While I did though, I used a standing work station that I built out of cardboard boxes and stacked textbooks. Total cost, zero dollars and a few funny looks.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Audacious Epigone January 30, 2012 at 9:19 pm

What a timely post (yeah, I realize it was queued in advance, so what?). I used to feel the same about yoga. Additionally, I saw its growth as another consequence of our feminizing popular culture–rather than build muscle, it increases flexibility. So the 9-5ers can do what, exactly? Be more flexible for that hour a week when they’re… doing yoga? Having done it regularly for over a year now (albeit the P90X/X2 versions, which involve a lot more isometric upper body and core work than is the case in most yoga programs), I’ve done something close to a 180. I wouldn’t recommend it as an exclusive or even primary path to better fitness though–for me, it’s 1-2x a week, usually on “recovery” days. The recent article in the NYT about the dangers of yoga shouldn’t be ignored–if you lack the requisite strength and conditioning, it’s possible to really hurt yourself, especially if you’re heavy.

And just last night, I bought a foam roller. Before working chest and back today, I used it and was stunned by how much (benign) discomfort it caused when I hit the sweet spots. Not much, not much, roll a little farther, everything but toes on the ground, not much, and then — BAM! Ah shit! Five seconds and I need off. Okay, time to find the spot again, with a little more support this time…

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