Pliability is a central tenet of the TB12 Method. Everything we do ties back to being more pliable. But what exactly is pliability? How is it different from flexibility? And what does it take to get pliable?
Today, we’re breaking down what pliability means — and why it counts.
At TB12, we define pliability as a state in which your muscles are long, resilient and able to move without restriction. Pliable muscles — achieved through hands-on bodywork and pliability movements — are better at absorbing force, allowing the body to withstand the impact of sport and daily life.
In layman’s terms, this just means your muscles are extremely efficient at performing without pain, and that they’re able to prevent injury before it happens. Getting pliable primes your muscles for everything from a high-impact NFL game to a walk in the park.
Pliability vs. Flexibility
On a scientific level, pliability is a full-body process that stimulates your muscles. According to Body Coach Joe Koudelka, muscle pliability doesn’t just exist in your muscular system. “Undergoing muscle pliability work can….stimulate the nervous system, allowing the muscle to contract and relax more efficiently and effectively,” he says. “Pliable tissue also has a good blood supply, is able to fully contract and relax, and lacks any restrictions or adhesions.”
This is the core difference between pliability and flexibility. While flexibility is strictly focused on stretching out your joints and the muscles around them, pliability focuses on deep-tissue and full-body work that strengthens and heals your muscles. Flexibility is stretching out after a workout, while pliability is stretching accompanied by deep tissue work, nervous system stimulation, hydration and nutrition. It’s more all-around than flexibility, and has more long-term benefits.
Why Get Pliable?
The biggest benefit to building pliability is pain-free performance. “In sport, we can’t truly prevent injury,” says Body Coach Alex Burke. “But, keeping your muscles pliable gives you the best chance to stay injury-free and pain-free because of their ability to absorb and dispense forces, improve muscle activation, reduce muscle tightness and movement restriction, and accelerate recovery.“
On top of that, pliability boosts your endurance, helps you recover more effectively from a workout, and improves the exchange of oxygen in your bloodstream.
Pliability in Practice
Getting pliable is a multifaceted process. Deep tissue work, whether with a Body Coach or at home, is essential — but needs to be coupled with the right lifestyle choices for maximum effect.
Deep Tissue Work with a Body Coach
Doing deep tissue work with a TB12 Body Coach at a TB12 Performance and Recovery Center is the number one way to maintain your pliability. Each Body Coach brings their own unique background in athletic training, physical therapy, or acupuncture. But, all have an intimate knowledge of the body’s muscular functions, allowing them to target the correct muscle groups during treatment sessions and prescribe the right exercises to address your body’s imbalances.
Body Coaches are also able to perform deep force muscle work, which helps to break up scar tissues following injury and reduces tension in your muscles.
Self-Pliability Work at Home
While working with a Body Coach is the best way to maintain muscle pliability, it isn’t always realistic for everyone to make it into a TB12 Center. In this case, rolling out at home with a vibrating roller or sphere is your next best option to keep your muscles long and resilient.
Rolling out by itself increases your muscle flexibility. But, coupled with vibrations that can increase muscular strength, kinetic awareness, and range of movement, it gives a spectrum of benefits to your muscles.
Like we said, pliability isn’t only about your muscles. Making lifestyle adjustments that maximize your muscles’ ability to lengthen and recover is essential.
As part of the TB12 Method, we recommend drinking half your bodyweight in fluid ounces per day. For example, a 100 pound person should drink around 50 fluid ounces of water. This is known as your Hydration Baseline, and keeps your muscles hydrated for peak performance.
What you put into your body affects what you can get out of it. Generally, we recommend sticking to a diet of 80% plant-based foods and 20% animal products, supplemented by protein. The emphasis on plant-based eating reduces inflammation in your muscles.
Working — and resting — your mind is just as essential as honing in on your body. Sleep is essential for memory, focus, and learning. And when you want to build pliability or give it your all at the gym, on the field, or on the job, you’ll need your mind in top shape.
The Bottom Line
Pliability is all-around work that focuses on your muscles lengthening and recovering. And putting in the work to get pliable is essential to pain-free performance — and day-to-day life.
This article is part of a series on Pliability. Next, learn more about how pliability works for everyone.