How Can I Have a Flexible Body?
How flexible is your body, really? Can you bend over to touch your toes? If you can`t, then it`s time to increase your flexibility. And there are a number of ways to do this. We`ll explore some of them in this article.
But first, what`s flexibility? It`s the ability and ease of your muscles and other connective tissues to stretch temporarily. Mobility is part of good flexibility; it`s the ability of your joints to move freely in certain motions without pain.
Flexibility is essential for your health and everyday life. People with inelastic muscles will have issues doing simple things like reaching for something high on a shelf or bending over to pick an item. What`s more? Flexibility promotes relaxation, as well as releases muscle tension and soreness.
People who are looking to increase their flexibility may need to do some breath work, dynamic stretching, static stretching, and strength training. This sounds like a huge commitment, however, it is attainable. With only 10 minutes a few times a week, you`ll get much closer to achieving your flexibility goal.
How to Add Flexibility Training to your Regular Exercise Routine
- Begin with at least three days a week of flexibility training.
- Add breath work, static stretching, and dynamic stretching to your exercise routine. Do each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Relax intermittently and repeat.
- Do some dynamic stretches before strength training and always end with static stretches.
Now let`s take a look at the various ways to improve flexibility.
10 Ways to Improve your Flexibility
Proper breathing is essential in your exercise routine, particularly stretching. Diaphragmatic breathing is especially effective at better breathing with less energy. What`s more? It will engage and strengthen your diaphragm and core muscles. Here`s how to master diaphragmatic breathing:
- Sit or stand in a chair, then place each hand on either side of your rib cage.
- Inhale through your nose, till you fill your lungs with air and feel your rib cage expand.
- Exhale gradually through your mouth, ensuring that you engage your core and pelvic floor muscles as you push the air out.
Seated Inhale and Exhale
This is a healthy way to improve your diaphragmatic breath.
- Sit cross-legged with your arms down at your side.
- Inhale and bring your arms up overhead.
- Exhale and take your arms back to the starting position.
Seated Side-to-Side Stretch
This will improve your diaphragmatic breath, as well as stretch your torso with a side-to-side stretch. Here`s how to do the seated side-to-side stretch:
- Sit cross-legged, putting your arms down at your side.
- Inhale and put your right arm up over your head to the left. Stretch your right side while you do this.
- Exhale and return to the initial position.
- Inhale and repeat with your left arm.
The various unhealthy neck positions we assume make it necessary to do the neck rotations often. “Text neck” and poor neck positioning during sleep are the common culprits here. They will leave your neck feeling sore and out of alignment.
Static stretching is one sure way to improve flexibility. Here`s what to know while performing static stretches:
- Do some low-intensity warm-up for about 5 to 10 minutes before your static stretches. This is crucial because stretching cold muscles can increase your chances of injury.
- Bouncing can increase the risk of injury to your muscles, so don`t bounce.
- Stretch to the point of tension, then stop. Don`t overexert, as that they may cause injury.
- Practice diaphragmatic breathing periodically while you`re at this exercise.
- Forward folds will stretch the backside of your body, including your hamstrings, calves, spine, and glutes. Here`s how to do forward folds:
- Put your feet close together, then bend forward at your hips, bringing your head to your knees and your hands on or toward the ground.
- Lengthen your legs as much as you can, without locking your knees.
- Bend your knees slightly so that your hands can touch the ground.
- Place a yoga block or some other prop in front of you, then rest your hands on it.
Seated Torso Stretch
Also called the seated pretzel stretch, this move will help lengthen your spine and stretch your glutes. Here`s how to do the seated torso stretch:
- Sit on the ground, extending your right leg and crossing your left leg over it.
- Twist your torso toward the left, and place your right hand against your left thigh for resistance.
- Breathe into the stretch and allow a deeper twist on each exhale.
Figure-four will help you release tight hips and glutes with a figure-four stretch. You can perform the stretch while standing, however, it requires some balance. Here`s how to do it:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
- Take your right ankle to your left knee, and let your right leg rest there, leaving it bent.
- Put your hands on the back of your left leg, and gently pull your left leg toward your chest, feeling a stretch in the right glute and hip.
- Repeat this on the other leg.
The squat is another excellent one to help you achieve that flexibility you desire. It will particularly get your lower body in tip-top shape. Here`s how:
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart with your toes pointed out slightly.
- Sit back in the hips, then bend your knees to lower yourself down, just as you would if you were going to sit in a chair.
- Make your arms to come out in front of you in a comfortable way, while you ensure that your knees don’t fall in.
- Get your thighs parallel to the ground, then stop. Return to start.
- Lunge with backbend
- Add a gentle backbend to your lunge to engage and stretch your torso even more.
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
This is particularly recommended for those who sit most of the time. Here`s how to do it:
- Get into a lunge position with your right leg forward; make sure your right knee is over your right foot.
- Let your left knee rest on the floor.
- Put both hands on your right leg for support, while you keep your back straight.
- Lean backward until you feel some resistance.
- Repeat on the other leg.
6 Benefits of Improving your Flexibility
There are numerous reasons to become more flexible. Let`s discuss some of them.
Flexibility will help you have a better posture. People who have tense muscles are likely to have muscle strain and poor posture.
Greater Range of Motion
Increased flexibility makes it easier to move your joints in a normal direction with less effort.
Lower Risk of Injuries
Increasing the flexibility and strength in your muscles and joints will make you less vulnerable to injuries.
Improved flexibility will help you to have better blood flow. This will may help your muscles recover more quickly after a workout, as well as prevent stiffness.
Less Muscle Tension
Stretching your muscles can help you release tension and tightness, thereby making it easier to move.
Tense muscles usually cause pressure and stress on certain parts of the body and, as a result, cause pain in the shoulders, neck, and back.