By Black Health Matters

You may have already noticed some of the signs.

Maybe when you get up in the morning you are stiffer than before. Or your knees get sore after sitting down for a while. Over time, everyone’s body ages and shows signs of natural wear and tear. Regular exercise helps delay the process and keeps you agile. However, many people forget to include mobility exercises in their routine.

Flexibility and mobility are important for the functioning of your body. Flexibility refers to the ability to move a joint through its full range of motion or fully lengthen a muscle. Mobility involves a little more. It includes flexibility, as well as strength, coordination and balance.

Staying active and maintaining mobility is important as you age. Here are three ways to make sure your body can stay agile for a long time:

Stretch every day

Simple stretches can increase your range of motion and decrease pain in conditions like rotator cuff tendinopathy. The advantage of stretching is that you can do it anywhere and it only takes a few seconds to a few minutes. There are three basic types of stretches. You can choose to focus on increasing flexibility or you can also work on mobility.

Static stretching: You probably learned this style in college. (Think standing toe touch and thigh stretch.) Static stretching increases flexibility by gently tensing a muscle and holding the position for 30 to 60 seconds. Make sure you don’t bounce. It is best to warm up before attempting this type of stretch.

Isometric stretching: In this type of stretching, you get into a static stretching position and then gently contract the stretched muscle. Keep muscle length and joint angle stable. Hold for 10-15 seconds, then relax your muscle for about 20 seconds or more, then repeat. Isometric stretches increase strength and flexibility.

Dynamic stretches: When you roll your neck, do lunges while walking, or do arm rolls, you are doing dynamic stretches. A dynamic stretch takes a specific motion and allows joints and muscles to move through their full range of motion.

Dynamic stretch is controlled and smooth. It’s a great way to warm up before exercising and increase range of motion.

When you begin a stretching routine, remember to take it slow. Stretching too quickly and too far can trigger your body’s defense mechanisms to protect against joint and muscle tears. Stretch until you feel tension. If you feel pain, you have gone too far.

Discover foam roller self-massage

They cost as little as $10 and are available in multiple lengths and densities. A foam roller is a simple and convenient way to release tension in muscles and connective tissue, which helps increase flexibility and improve mobility. For beginners, a medium foam roller may be the most comfortable.

Use your body’s natural movement. Using your body’s natural movements can increase your mobility, stability and balance. Plus, it adds a little cheer to your day. An example of a “natural movement” activity is crawling. Getting on all fours strengthens and mobilizes just about every muscle and joint in your body. Climbing, carrying, throwing and catching (safely and gently, of course) are other ways to stay flexible. However you choose to move, remember to breathe freely, start slow, be gentle, and don’t bounce.

Perhaps most important: find stretches and other activities that you actually enjoy doing and that fit into your daily routine. It’s the best way to guarantee that you’ll stick with a more flexible and agile lifestyle.

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