Should you train flexibility over the festive period?
Only if it brings you joy.
We live such busy, hectic lives; if we have the luxury of a break, we should use it wisely doing things that bring us joy, fulfil us, spark our curiosity and revitalise us. So if flexibility training does that for you, go ahead, enjoy it.
If, however, you feel obligated to train flexibility because;
- You are afraid of losing progress
- You are worried that you won’t restart your training if you stop
- You want to ‘earn’ your holiday treats
- You ‘should’ because you don’t often get time off
- You are lazy if you don’t
Your approach to your training could be holding you back.
Let’s look at what will really happen if you take a break.
If I Stop Training Flexibility, Will I Lose It?
People are often nervous about taking time off their flexibility training because they have worked so hard for it and don’t want to lose their progress. The truth is, because of the nature of improvements in flexibility, this form of fitness is probably the easiest to maintain and often benefits from having a break. Read the full blog here.
Did you know?
Flexibility is relatively easy to maintain over time with a bit of, low-intensity input.
The harder and longer you have worked for your flexibility, the easier it will be to maintain.
A break in training may result in some reduced tolerance to stretch, but not a reduction in range (e.g. it will feel harder, but you will achieve the same level).
It is easier to regain any progress you have lost than it was to gain it in the first place.
Often, particularly if you are stressed, burned out, sick or fatigued, your flexibility training will be much better for having a break.
A break of less than two weeks is more likely to do good than harm to consistent, intense flexibility training.
So training flexibility over the festive period isn’t necessary for performance or to maintain your progress.
Why your reason for training over your break matters
Feeling obligated to train can signify an unhelpful belief related to flexibility training. Flexibility beliefs are not simply what you think about stretching; they are complex narratives that help you make sense of yourself, others and the world in ways related to flexibility training. They are the context by which you understand flexibility and reflect your fundamental understandings, experiences and values related to other aspects of your life. Unhelpful flexibility beliefs reinforce behaviour detrimental to your progress, heighten unpleasant physical sensations, and evoke uncomfortable emotions. Read more here
While continuing to train when you don’t need to may not seem like such a bad thing, it may reinforce an unrealistic/inflexible standards narrative; the need for complete certainty or extremely high personal standards that are unrealistic and inflexible, despite their negative impact. Unrealistic/inflexible standards narratives are often driven by shame. They can lead to unhelpful behaviours such as boom/bust training, chronic overtraining, training as self-punishment, training through injuries and sometimes ceasing training as you can never live up to the impossible standards you have set for yourself. These behaviours will result in sub-optimal training, but they also dilute your belief in your ability to self regulate your training and trust your body.
Christmas break may be the perfect time to tune into your body and honour it. Use the evidence you collect rather than strong emotions or unhelpful narratives to decide if training hard over your holidays is the best thing for you. It’s time to be mindful. If you are feeling tired, burned out, overwhelmed, sore, sensitive, tight or if your training has been deteriorating, your HRV is reduced, and you haven’t been enjoying your training; Take a break. Do something different. Move-in ways that bring you joy. Trust your body and listen to it. Give yourself the opportunity to learn that it's ok to take a break.