The Brain’s Role in Flexibility

The Brain’s Role in Flexibility

Have you ever tried to learn a new language?  If so, you probably know the best way is to immerse yourself.  

In the same way, tackling mobility restrictions with simple stretches and foam rolling is like trying to memorize verses in a different language.  They may stick for a moment, but without application, you will never become “fluent.”

Let me show you what you’re missing to improve your results…FAST!  

Become Fluent in Mobility

The typical flexibility plan of stretching and foam rolling doesn’t make the muscles longer. You can make muscles longer, but the research shows it requires a sustained stretch of 30 minutes or more.

What’s actually happening during these mobility routines is the brain is allowing the muscles to relax.

As the muscles relax, flexibility will improve, leaving you with the great feeling that your mobility issues are solved!

Unfortunately, this feeling of flexibility is fleeting because this solution is not permanent. The brain’s perception of how tight your muscles should be will revert back if you don’t use it.

Therefore, the key to harness mobility gains is to use the new range of motion. By contracting the muscles, you are programming the brain to use this new end range, telling it you are safe and stable and will need it for future endeavors.

Just like using the language, you have been practicing—You’ve got to use it or lose it!

The Trick for Lasting Improvements

If you want to apply stretching and foam rolling to your daily routine, you will probably see some immediate changes.  

That’s great…Now go put them to use!  

Some things to keep in mind:

  1. Don't overload it!  Adding too much strain to the joint will cause the brain will perceive danger and restrict range or motion to prevent injury.
  2. The brain needs to learn how to use the end range! Pause at the end range and find stability to make it work.

Want more to improve your mobility?  Check out our article on stretching vs. strength training.

stretching vs. strength training

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