When we first met Tom, he was the new CEO of an organisation going through a merger. He had a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. His mother was also in ill health, his house was being renovated, and he had a long commute home each weekend. He had become so tense that his throat, neck and shoulders were rigid. As someone who always pushed on regardless, he had not realised how the build-up of physical tension and the build-up of emotions were linked. Over the course of just three coaching sessions, Tom was able to release years of tension that had built up in his body. A few tears were shed, and we laughed a lot, too. Once Tom found his own way of releasing tension, he was able to meet the challenges of the merger by thinking creatively and better understanding the needs of all stakeholders. Today, Tom is more aware when tension builds in his neck and shoulders. He uses alerts to remind him to get up every hour to stretch and walk around and do his sequence of flexibility movements. He is also much more aware of his overall Physical Intelligence and can feel the chemicals change in his body when the pressure is on. When that happens, he breathes freely, goes for a walk and stretches to release tension and be more open. It doesn’t completely stop the feelings from coming, but they no longer create blocks in his body and he can process them.
Here are a few Flexibility techniques you can easily incorporate into your day:
Shoulder Stretch and Drop
This movement is easy to do at your desk.
• Begin by using good seated posture.
• One by one, lift the shoulders up in eight steps so that by the eighth step the shoulders are up by the ears.
• Tip the head back and squeeze the neck and shoulder muscles.
• Breathe in, hold for a second and then drop the shoulders down, simultaneously breathing out and balancing the head back on the vertical spine.
• Repeat as needed.
This stretch can be done inconspicuously at a desk at work because it appears to others as if you are just looking behind you.
• Begin in correct seated posture (see pp. 49–50).
• Keep the knees and hips facing forwards.
• Cross the left hand and arm diagonally down across the body, so that the back of the left hand/wrist presses against the outside of the right thigh.
• Straighten the left arm and press the back of the hand/wrist gently but firmly against the outside thigh while twisting the whole torso to the right.
• Turn your head to look over the right shoulder. Your hand and arm create leverage so that you can gently increase the range of the twist. Do not lever yourself to the extent that you cause any pain.
• Breathe in and out. Lever yourself further into the twist depending on the flexibility of your spine.
• Breathe again, release the position, then slowly face front.
• Repeat to the left with the right arm crossing the body.
Even if you’ve never played golf, the golf swing action is a great way to release tension. Don’t worry about the perfect stroke.
• Bring the arms back to prepare and then swing them through freely, letting the movement come to a natural end.
• Repeat on the left side and right side, breathing out while you swing through.
(Racket sports and golf are a great way to up the 'ODDS' -- the right balance of chemicals for increased Flexibility.. They are social (Oxytocin), sometimes out in open space (Dopamine is released when our visual cortex is stimulated by seeing landscapes), and because they involve swing and twist movements the adrenals receive a detox (supporting DHEA production) and independent neurons in the gut are stimulated (releasing Serotonin).
Commit to incorporating flexibility movements into each day and watch what it does to your creativity.
NOTE: We should be standing/moving/walking for between two and four hours of our day according to a 2015 paper commissioned by Public Health England. Those who sit all day have a 13 percent greater risk of cancer and 17 percent greater risk of mortality than those who spend time moving. A revolution in the way we work is needed. Consider walking to talk to colleagues rather than emailing, using stand/sit desks to keep us mobile and flexible and setting reminders for movement routines using our devices and apps.
About Companies in Motion
There are over 80 easy to use techniques and tips to build our Physical Intelligence. You can read about all of them in our new book, Physical Intelligence: Harness Your Body’s Untapped Intelligence to Achieve More, Stress Less and Live More Happily available from Simon and Schuster. (Order here.) (Multiple translations will be available later in 2019.)