Tanya Rouble, ACE-CPT
Have you ever said to yourself, “Gee, I used to be able to touch my toes
Have you ever said to yourself, “Gee, I used to be able to touch my toes. Now I can’t!” It is common knowledge that as we age, flexibility decreases. While most of us want to be limber, most of us are not. The problem is that, because stretching can be uncomfortable, it tends to wait on the back burner with promises to do it later.
A recent study published in February 2006 in the Journal of Sports Sciences encourages us to get our brain involved while stretching in order to gain more enjoyment from this type of activity. Thirty volunteers took part in a flexibility training program for four weeks. One group imagined moving the limb they were stretching, a second group tried to visualize the muscle as it stretched, and the third group did not engage in any mental imagery. Results showed significant gains in flexibility in all three groups. However, the two groups that used imagery reported higher levels of comfort while stretching.
Basically, by creating a mental picture of the limb or muscle while stretching, participants felt less discomfort with the movement. Less discomfort may transfer to more participation in this type of activity. So before you decide to do it later, try focusing on the task at hand—a good stretch–and limber up in comfort.