Why flexibility is important for back health

Flexibility is important for a healthier body, for pain prevention, and for good posture. Our bodies tend to adapt to the postures we default to, which means if you hunch over for long periods of time while doing desk work, your body will fall into that position (i.e. forward head, rounded shoulders)

What are problems associated with poor flexibility?

  • Limited range of motion: If your muscles are tight and inflexible, you'll suffer from a limited range of motion.
  • Tense muscles and imbalance: Tight muscles can pull on your joints, triggering pain.
  • Chronic pain and discomfort: Poor flexibility will make you more prone to chronic pain and contribute to poor posture habits.
Meet Vera Schofield, a flexibility coach, who shared expert tips on a few moves anyone can do to improve their flexibility. 
Vera Schofield, flexibility coach, wearing Kinflyte's posture bra and front zip bra - Rise Zip Bra

Vera Schofield in Kinflyte's Rise Zip Bra

Tell us about yourself.  

My name is Michelle ‘Vera’ Schofield, and I run Flexibility with Vera. I am a plus size certified personal trainer and flexibility coach teaching people worldwide how to move with intention and feel good in their bodies. I’m located in Toronto, Canada, but I teach almost exclusively online, and you can often see one of my three cats taking up space on my mat when I try to teach.

I often disliked fitness growing up and often used it as punishment. It wasn’t until I developed chronic back pain in 2017 that I rediscovered fitness as something I can experience joyfully. Now I love working on my flexibility, going on hikes, weight-lifting and even dancing, and sharing that joy and my experience with others who have a similar background to fitness as I do.

What makes your flexibility practice different from traditional yoga?

Yoga, a spiritual practice that is rooted in Hinduism, has eight limbs. Asana, the practice of posture, is what we often think of when we think yoga, especially how it has been colonized and shown in our Western culture.

Flexibility training on the other hand is based in fitness and solely focused on improving mobility, joint function, and lengthening and strengthening our muscles to help us move in our fullest range of motion.

How is flexibility training important for good posture and back health?

Think about how often you sit! Sedentary jobs are the most common job for us to have. When we’re sitting all day, often in non-ergonomic chairs, not only do our hips get tight causing lower back pain, but we often start to curl up like a shrimp after a few hours at the desk. This causes our chest muscles to tighten and shoulders to round.

Flexibility training helps us open up those tight muscles, and strengthen our core. Once we have our core strong and those muscles released, we start to move into a natural, more proper posture that is to our specific anatomy, and that leads to healthier backs.

What are basic moves that one can practice daily to improve their flexibility? 

Especially in the colder months, our muscles contract and stiffen due to the cold weather, so keeping warm is a must.

  • We often find a lot of tightness in our hips and around our spine, among other parts of our body, from the cold weather, so we want to do some dynamic-active stretches, such as hip circles and shoulder circles to keep the joints feeling fluid. 

  • Cat-cow is a form of spinal segmentation and is great to help our spine feel mobile, and helps release lower and upper back tightness, not to mention giving our lungs more space to take in all the oxygen we need.
Cat Cow pose
  • I also would suggest a wide-legged forward fold, not only does this stretch our hamstrings, lengthen our spine, and help relieve some tightness in our hips, but since this is a partial inversion since our heart is below our chest it helps with blood flow to keep our bodies moving smoothly, unlike the rivers and lakes nearby that freeze over.

Why is inclusivity so important to you? Can you describe what it means to your practice?

Inclusivity is to include everyone to the best of our abilities. Especially in the fitness industry, marginalized bodies are often pushed to the sidelines and forgotten about. As a fat kid in school and even into my adulthood, I have the all-too-common experience of being picked last, unable to fit into the jerseys, or having to sit out because I was a second thought.

Now, inclusivity is a major pillar of my business and practice, and I crave for it to be brought forward in every way. I want everyone who wants to work out and work on their flexibility to feel like they can do movements that work for them, rather than being forced to sit out of movements that are inaccessible to them for whatever reason. So whether this means giving an option to do a movement in a chair that normally is on the hands and knees, or holding onto a wall for balance, I want every body to find movement that suits their current needs.

Vera in Kinflyte posture sports bras

During a trip to beautiful Nova Scotia, Vera wore three Kinflyte posture bras and put them to the test. She shared her experiences on an Instagram Reel

Vera wearing Rise Zip Bra, Kinflyte's posture correcting sports bra, while stretching and exercising

Vera stretching in Rise Zip Bra - Eco Jersey

Vera wearing Kinflyte's Freedom Bra Midi - Eco Jersey, a back support bra, shoulder support bra.

Wearing the Freedom Bra Midi - Eco Jersey

The feedback on Kinflyte's posture sports bras

"These are some of the best sports bras I’ve ever worn. On a recent trip to Nova Scotia, I worked out in them, camped in them, and even wore them on a 25-hour car ride home. There’s no digging, no spillage happening. The shoulder straps I really love because they’re thick and I feel extra secure in all the movements I’m doing. This is not restrictive. I can breathe fully in these bras, which I love." 

To learn more about Vera's approach to flexibility training, you can find her on TikTok and Instagram @flexwithvera and she also shares tips and advice on her website flexibilitywithvera.com.