Help me regain my flexibility!
April 11, 2010 1:44 PM   Subscribe

My flexibility is disappearing with my youth, and I hate the overall creakiness and lack of balance that's left behind. Can someone recommend a good video to help me fight back?

I work out five times a week: M, W, F on the weight machines, and T, Th doing intervals on the treadmill. I've done the weight routines for years (and just started rotating from the electronic to the mechanical machines on a 6-8 week basis) and the treadmill for the past year. I'm in good shape and pretty strong, but I'm not limber. Some of this comes with age (I'm in my mid-50s), I know, and X-rays have shown a touch of arthritis as well. Is it a pipe dream to expect that I can feel flexible and even lithe? I've acquired some stretching and flexibility books that just sit on the shelf or go back to the library, without making a difference in my life. I think a video-based stretching or flexibility routine would be easier for me to follow if someone can point me in the right direction.
posted by DrGail to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
have you tried taking yoga? there are lots of senior citizens in yoga classes here in manhattan, and most of the ones that have been doing it for years are far more limber than i am in my 30s!
posted by lia at 1:48 PM on April 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

i don't know of a video, but I do have some suggestions:
--using free weights instead of weight machines will help with balance and building supporting muscles.
--stretches don't have to be complicated: Do a few basic stretches you know (try to touch toes and hold, etc.). Should take about 5min for a few major muscle groups. Repeat daily; more is better; and you'll get more flexible a little at a time.

I'm a 20ish guy though so YMMV.
posted by sninctown at 1:54 PM on April 11, 2010

What you want is yoga and/or pilates. I highly recommend starting out in classes, because having an instructor correct your form will be vital to avoiding injury and getting the most out of it. However, if you insist on videos, I've heard great things about Rodney Yee yoga and Stott Pilates.
posted by decathecting at 2:01 PM on April 11, 2010

I bought a DVD years ago called Yoga for Inflexible People. It would be a good introduction to yoga for you, it takes things really slowly and gives you lots of exercises depending on what part of your body you want to work.
posted by TooFewShoes at 2:06 PM on April 11, 2010

Seconding yoga. It not only works on flexibility, but builds strength. Even if you only take classes for six weeks, you can build up a vocabulary of stretches you can use to stay limber in the future. Also seconding moving away from the weight machines- free weights will allow you to build more strength in your core, build your supporting and stabilizing muscles and allow you to use your full range of motion. Again, just a few sessions with a trainer will give you the basics of good form.
posted by MadamM at 2:06 PM on April 11, 2010

Weight training will make you plenty flexible enough if you do it correctly. Stop using machines and learn to lift barbells. If you can perform a good full squat, overhead press, and deadlift, you'll have plenty of flexibility for regular tasks. You won't even have to waste time doing yoga.
posted by ludwig_van at 2:09 PM on April 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

There is a dvd called Magnificent Mobility that's fairly good.
posted by Carius at 2:09 PM on April 11, 2010

The real problem won't be solved by whatever video, or book, you end up using. It's instituting your flexibility into your program. You have to start doing this at a specific point during your day. The best times I've found is either to incorporate it into your workout, or right when you wake up. This is why yoga is so awesome as a workout. Most people take flexibility for granted, and don't realize it is an important part of being healthy. So whenever I finish a workout I generally finish up with some type of stretching, and when I wake up in the morning it's the first thing I (slowly) do when I jump out of bed. Yoga is great, as I already said, because one position flows into the next and after a matter of weeks you can do it without much thought.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:45 PM on April 11, 2010

You can absolutely still become lumber and flexible at your age. I've seen people in their 60s and 70s do amazing things after starting yoga. But, to echo the above, you must start with classes or else you'll hurt yourself and make things worse.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:59 PM on April 11, 2010

I use AM and PM Stretch. The instructor has some weird little pronunciation ticks that irritate me, but in general I like it a lot.
posted by craichead at 3:04 PM on April 11, 2010

Yes, the copy is totally off putting, but I really do recommend it. Contrast with static stretching like yoga.
posted by zeek321 at 3:09 PM on April 11, 2010

Nthing yoga.
posted by fieldtrip at 9:04 PM on April 11, 2010

My go to recommendation, the trigger point therapy workbook by clair davies.
posted by Not Supplied at 4:39 AM on April 12, 2010

Yoga really is magic for rejuvenating and "relimbering" bodies. There are a ton of DVDs out there and even plenty of free clips available online. I'm partial to ones that are relatively slow as opposed to Vinyasa or "Power Yoga."

The All-Day Yoga Workout - A.M., Stress Relief, and P.M. Yoga for Beginners is a low-key, pretty easy introduction that makes me feel better every time I do one of the programs.

The secret of yoga, by the way, is not to stretch, but to relax into a "stretched" position, if that makes sense. Don't tug or pull at your muscles -- bring them to the first point of resistance and focus on relaxing that resistance while breathing deeply and calmly. Once it disappears -- and it will, miraculously almost -- move on to the next point, and so on. Afterwards, you'll feel a new freedom in that muscle that should last at least a few hours and possibly a few days. Try it with whatever's bother you the most.
posted by callmejay at 8:28 AM on April 12, 2010

If yoga's not your thing, Active-Isolated Stretching is a more modern technique that also works well.
posted by callmejay at 8:29 AM on April 12, 2010

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