Can you touch your toes?

flexible yogaFlexibility

Can you touch your toes without bending your knees? Try any yoga moves lately? These questions hopefully got you thinking about your physical flexibility, or lack of as the case may be.

Physical flexibility represents a struggle for me. My muscles constantly feel tight and resistant to movement even though I’m in shape (can run a 5k & bike 12 miles) and not what I would consider a weakling (can life 10 pounds weights 100 times in a few minutes).

While I make a point to stretch often, I fail doing so consistently enough to keep inflexibility at bay. And this lack of physical flexibility serves as a reminder of the importance of flexibility – and a regular habit of stretching – not just physically but mentally as well.

The Benefits of Flexibility

What experts tout as the benefits of physical flexibility correlate well with the advantages of mental flexibility. In fact, when flexibility exists as a character trait – those elements that define you and shape your reputation – the same benefits seen with physical flexibility become visible in other areas of life too. Those benefits include:

  1. Reduced Risk of Injury. A flexible person has broad shoulders. Rather than harboring offenses, he releases them by giving the benefit of the doubt and refusing to take them personally.
  2. Improved Posture. Flexibility allows for confidence to stand strong amidst life’s struggles. This confidence reduces the strain that poor posture – lack of confidence – places on the system as a whole.
  3. Reduced Pain. Low back pain can immobilize a person, and flexibility goes a long way in reducing the pain. Flexibility as a character trait reduces the long-term impact of hurt and keeps a person from being frozen by it.
  4. Brings Life. Physical flexibility increases blood flow resulting in greater range of motion, less joint pain and reduced joint inflammation. Likewise, mental flexibility gives a person greater courage, less fear and increased stamina.
  5. Better Overall Health & Vitality. A flexible person lives a fuller life as he exudes positivity and energy. In fact, others are drawn to a flexible person because of his alacrity, making flexibility an impactive and even contagious trait.

Identifying Flexibility

Flexible quoteWhat does flexibility look like in a person? While the benefits listen above serve to create motivation for the individual, they are not always easy to pinpoint tangibly. So, how can others pinpoint that flexibility exists and see its benefit?

When a person’s character involves flexibility, she becomes known for her servant’s heart, consistency & reliability, encouragement, broad shoulders, and abundance of grace. A flexible person draws people to himself, and people leave his presence feeling inspired.

A flexible person becomes so by stretching, by be willing to get outside comfort zones and extend into areas that at first feel unnatural. But with increased flexibility comes tremendous benefits, both to the individual becoming flexible and to every person she comes into contact with. Flexibility serves to amplify an already solid character.

DISCUSSION: What other benefits do you see with flexibility? What other ways is it identified in someone? What specific ways are there for increasing flexibility as a character trait?

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18 Replies to “Can you touch your toes?”

  1. My brain is frozen this morning so I can't think of anything more to add kari. I like your juxtaposition of physical and spiritual reality. I know flexibility physically is an issue for me since I have gotten older, but even more spiritually.

    1. Ah, frozen brain. Happens to me sometimes too, usually if I've eaten too much sugar. Flexibility, especially physically, can decrease with age, but let's refuse to let it happen spiritually. Just read 2 Peter 1:3-12 this morning… the basics keeps us spiritually flexible, growing & maturity until our final days on this earth.

  2. Yes I can touch my toes, but only after I warm up the muscles in the back first! When I first get up my back will barely bend, but after a while I can move just fine. I guess that is how I like to start my day too, slowly, with quiet time with God to warm up for the journey of the day. When you run or exercise stretching and warming up is important, and I see time with God, even if it is just a quiet prayer or hymn of praise helps me get emotionally and spiritually ready for the battles that come from the enemy during the day. Thanks as always for taking something we would not usually consider and turning it into a great blog

  3. I am serving as an associate pastor, a stretching moment for me since I've served 4 times previously as the lead pastor, and I thought about what flexibility looks like in the senior pastor. One of the things where she shows flexibility is in our conversations about expectations and worship responsibilities. We'll go over general preaching themes for a certain period of Sundays. They'll be clear. But when it comes to my time to preach, she says, "But you can do what you want." She has said that several times in conversations like that. I enjoy the freedom afforded to me by those words, "But you can do what you want."

    1. Great example! Also, the idea of being a godly follower has been on my heart lately, so your connection works well there too. When a leader trusts someone like your senior pastor does you, it's very freeing for both individuals. It allows for flexibility in many ways, and it also allows for the growth and health of the ministry. Keep me posted on how things are going, Tom.

  4. I worry about growing old and growing set in my ways and in my thinking. I want to remain flexible and teachable. Otherwise I believe I become a burden instead of a blessing. To be rigid in one's thinking does not allow for growth.

  5. i would add that a flexible person is willing to step out of her comfort zone – and since most of our growth takes place outside the comfort zone, the flexible person would be a growing person.

    1. Great addition! And, one I struggle with a lot. I love my comfort from places to clothes to people. But, you're right, a growing person needs to be comfortable with being uncomfortable from time to time.

  6. Thanks Kari. A very timely post. There are times I feel I can become too flexible and others attempt to test my pliability and both my physical and mental flexibility tightens up to resist…the tension causes me to get up at 3a.m. because I am trying to cope with the situation. So thank you.

    1. Interesting to think of being too flexible, but I understand it totally. Being too flexible steals focus & often makes others problems, challenges & desires our own. We need balance too. I am thinking of good all-around gymnasts who are both flexible & have good balance. Hope things improve in this arena, Coach.

  7. I wondered if anyone was going to pick up on the counterweight, and Coach Mike just did 🙂

    Flexibility? Crucial, but don't overlook the need to stand firm. Willows can bend with the wind that can take down an unyielding oak, but nobody builds homes out of willow that I know of.

    1. What I love about what you call the “blogosphere” (I think I heard it from you) is that we can bring the “counterweight” into each others lives via our discussions. Meaning, we don’t have to cover every detail in a post, knowing the discussion will round things out a bit. Also, I tend to be less flexible in my mental & spiritual life much like I am in my physical self, and that obviously shapes my focus (in other words, I am working on becoming more flexible). I said all that to say that “iron sharpens iron,” and it’s one of the reasons I love the “blogosphere.”

  8. This reminds me of something a leader in my church used to say when I was in High School- "Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape"

    You go girl on being so fit- We are flipped on this one. I am pretty flexible but my cardio is severely lacking.

    1. I have heard that saying before too. My pastor talks a lot about flexibility when a mission trip is coming up & during the trip. Hey, I am going to try yoga more often to see if it helps. Can\’t hurt!

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