Roger Frampton on the magic of daily stretching
Meet the man motivating us to make the stretch more of a main event.
Following the success of his TEDx talk Why Sitting Down Destroys You, with over three million views, Roger Frampton has made his mark in the wellness world, with his programme, The Frampton Method, and its YouTube series, book and app. His foray into flexibility came as a result of shaping up for his modelling career – on the catwalk for Dolce & Gabbana and Missoni and in campaigns for Ralph Lauren. Today, this movement coach is focused on a simple goal – to inspire us to stretch regularly and communicate with our bodies in the pursuit of freedom from pain.
Why is stretching overlooked?
It’s this five-minute chore that comes post workout and it can be quite boring. It also requires a certain amount of discipline: We’ll sit in some of my stretches for two minutes and I’ve even done videos where I hold a pose for five minutes straight. On top of that, you have to be patient to see results. If you join a gym and do 5kg on the bench press, next week you might be able to do 7kg – but stretching isn’t like that as you won’t get that instant hit. It can take a long time to teach your body how to move which is why I think a lot of us put it off.
Taking photos is something that can remedy that. On my stretch plan, your first task is to take pictures of you performing four set stretches. This allows you to track progress, so you might have the ultimate goal of touching your toes, but until then you can use images to see where you’ve started from and stay motivated.
How did you get so into stretching and movement?
As a model, you have to fit a certain size and, suddenly, I couldn’t do weights anymore because I wouldn’t fit the silhouette if I wanted to go to Paris and Milan. So I started to play with bodyweight training and I came across gymnastics. These guys are the masters of bodyweight but I realised, after one class, that I sucked. I had no flexibility so I had to start with stretching and the simple goal of touching my toes. I'm on a mission to prove that it’s possible – however tight you are you can regain natural flexibility.
I never went back to weights, just because there’s so much to accomplish with your body and I stopped caring about my measurements because now I’m only focused on movement goals. When I started in fitness, it was more about trying to look a certain way but now I concentrate on stretching and the strength elements. In the background, my body changes – but that’s just an added extra.
What is The Frampton Method?
I was approached to write The Flexible Body book after my TEDx talk [in 2016, above], to provide practical guidance There are nine chapters and in each you're working towards a movement, like being able to do a full squat, touch your toes or build to a headstand. The objective is to practice 10 minutes every day, just to make it a habit – like brushing your teeth.
There’s an app, which is the video version of the book. We designed it for people who prefer visual and audio to the written word and it also has a league table which gives you points.
Finally, there’s the stretch plan, which is a four-month programme that's emailed directly to customers. It is more intense and consists of four hours stretching a week, and it’s much more serious territory for those who are probably already in the habit.
All you need is your body, everything else is a bonus. You can use a yoga mat but if you don’t have one, use a towel. You might have a block somewhere but, if you don’t, just grab a book. It’s easy to sell fitness equipment because lots of us think once we have the product we’re good at the discipline, right? Actually, we have to put time in and commit to the work, so that’s my focus.
When’s the best time of day to get in a stretch?
This is quite a personal thing. You’re likely to see a big difference trying to touch your toes in the morning compared to the evening because most of us wake up a little stiff. But if you sit all day your hamstrings can become tighter by the evening, making it harder to stretch. I do it more in the evening because that’s when my body is the most warmed up but, sometimes, I’ll do it in the morning because I’ve got more energy and I can move in different and dynamic ways.
There’s no perfect time which is why I think people should try both and see which suits them, as it’s about doing it regularly and taking enough time. We’re trying to open up the joints and encourage our body to release synovial fluid and, as that takes a certain amount of time, I encourage people to hold some positions for two minutes.
Make stretching so important that it feels weird when you forget to do it
How many times a week should we stretch and for how long?
I recommend starting with ten minutes a day as that’s easy to stick to. You can say you’re going to do half an hour, five days a week, but how easy is it to stick to that? Stretching doesn’t yield overnight results, so the ultimate goal is to make it a habit – like brushing your teeth. People also tend to stretch more when they’re waking up with neck or back pain, then find that’s not working and they come to see us. But you wouldn’t skip brushing your teeth for a month and then visit a dentist, would you, so it doesn’t work like that. You need to make stretching so important that it feels weird when you forget to do it.
Sometimes we can get stuck in a cycle of pain where we have a problem, see a physiotherapist and stretch until the pain goes away. But without upkeep that problem is likely to return in the future which is how the cycle begins again. If you stretch daily, you’re always taking care of any issues, to prevent bigger problems. I wouldn’t stop getting my car serviced then wait until a tyre falls off – and I think of my body in the same way.
The views expressed on these pages are the views of the cited experts only and do not necessarily represent the views of Wellness Edit. Please always get a second opinion where specific medical advice is required.
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