Our joints and muscles grow less flexible as we age. When you wake up from a long night’s sleep, you may realize that your body is stiff, that you’ve developed new pains in your shoulders or back, or that you can’t stretch your arms as high as you used to without suffering. Fortunately, there are techniques to reclaim the natural flexibility that most of us had as children. Flexibility promotes circulation, muscle health, and endurance, as well as helping to prevent injury and possibly even osteoporosis. Increasing your flexibility requires daily routines and workouts that stretch your muscles and joints.
- Adopt a different mindset when it comes to stretching:
Athletes and fitness fanatics have previously been taught to stretch in a way that can actually limit flexibility. Static stretching, which involves standing still and putting muscles or joints into a stretch, may feel nice in the moment and is wonderful for targeting specific muscles, but it does not produce long-term flexibility improvements. Static stretching puts the body in a tense state, similar to how you may tense up in a car accident, which can lead to muscle damage.
- Think about stretching as a calming technique rather than static stretching, which involves labor into a stretch. Do you remember the old adage that those who are calm at the time of impact in a car accident are less likely to be hurt than those who brace themselves first? Stretching is the same way.
- Begin by putting your body in a stretch position and then easing into it. You should maintain a calm and concentrated state without putting any strain on your muscles or joints.
- Active stretches, rather than static stretches, are especially beneficial before an exercise. If you experience tightness in a specific place, though, do some static stretches to loosen it up before you begin your workout.
- Stretch once you’ve warmed up for your workout:
Stretching cold muscles, according to most experts, might result in muscle injury or pain. Consider stretching as part of your fitness programmed instead:
- Begin with a light aerobic activity like brisk walking.
- Next, stretch all main muscle groups once your heart rate has increased and your muscles have warmed up.
- Do some form of exercise, such as running.
- Light activity, such as brisk walking, can help you relax.
- Stretch at least six times a week or every day:
It is not required to do sit-ups, crunches, or push-ups to become flexible; nonetheless, an exercise programmed must be balanced in terms of training the opposing muscles of a joint. Do each stretch for at least 20 seconds, as often as you’d like during the day or week.
- Try to stretch even on days when you aren’t doing anything else for your fitness, but don’t worry if you don’t have time: one study indicated that stretching six times a week is optimal, but you’ll get the advantages even if you stretch twice a day, three to four times a week.
- One good method to incorporate stretching into your day is to do it first thing in the morning and last thing before bed. Stretch the quadriceps (quads) in the front of your thigh, hamstrings in the back of your thigh, calves, chest, back (including the trapezius between the shoulder blades), shoulders, triceps on the back of the upper arm, biceps on the front of the upper arm, forearms, and abdominals.
- Deep, painful stretches should be avoided. Instead of attempting to hold postures that are difficult to maintain for the duration of the stretch, try to find positions where you can sit comfortably and converse or watch television. Holding a stretch for 30 to 60 seconds while breathing properly is critical. You’ve stretched too far if you can’t hold it without pain and breathing regularly.
- When stretching, don’t strive to hold yourself perfectly still; stretching isn’t a balancing act! Instead, stretch to the left or right and move around a little. Take a deep breath and lean into the stretch. If you want, try stretching while listening to soothing music and moving your body slowly to the beat.
Method 2: Increasing Flexibility Through Yoga
- Take up yoga:
Yoga is an excellent daily exercise for increasing overall strength and flexibility, as practically every pose improves with practice. It’s adaptable to your fitness level and may be as easy or as challenging as you choose, all while developing your flexibility.
- Poses like the Warrior and the Forward Bend adapt to your present level of flexibility (you only go as far forward as you can), but your flexibility level improves slightly each time you practice them. At first, the difference will be modest and difficult to notice, but persevere and you will notice a significant improvement in your flexibility.
- Every day, try this basic habit:
From start to finish, it only takes a few minutes and is a terrific method to start working on general body flexibility. Before moving on to the next pose, try to hold it for five to ten breaths:
- Begin in Mountain Pose. With your feet together and your hands extended at your sides, palms angled downward and eyes closed, stand tall. Standing tall stretches your back, shoulders, and arms, and it’s a really basic stance.
- Lie down in Child’s Pose. Lower your upper body down onto the ground with your arms extended in front of you while sitting on your feet with your knees touching the floor. Stay in this position for as long as you want.
- Raise yourself into a Downward-Facing Dog position. Standing in child’s pose, spread your feet hip-distance apart, bend at the waist, and position your hands in front of you. At a ninety-degree angle, your body should hinge. Spread your feet wider if this stance is difficult for you.
- To target more particular locations, learn more:
There are specific yoga practices that can help you achieve specific flexibility goals, such as performing the splits or touching your toes. To master more positions and become more flexible, consider enrolling in a yoga class or following a video programmed.
- Because yoga is such a popular trend, there are a plethora of free workout routines and videos available online to suit any level of flexibility. If you’re a beginner, look up “beginning yoga for flexibility,” or “advanced yoga for flexibility” if you’re more accomplished.
- Learn how to breathe properly:
Yoga is about mind-body relaxation and discipline, and good breathing is an important part of that process. Proper breathing during yoga (and other stretching practices) can actually enhance the stretch by relaxing the body and increasing oxygen flow to the targeted muscles.
- Raise your arms as high as you can above your head and take a deep breath to get a sense of how this works. During the inhalation, notice how your arms naturally rise even higher.
- Inhale through your nose while stretching and exhale through your mouth while holding the stretch. As you inhale, your abdomen, not your chest, should expand.
Method 3 Targeting Specific Muscle Groups
- Concentrate on your shoulders:
You must target stretches in both the shoulder and its mirror location in the chest to increase flexibility in your shoulder muscles.
- Take a deep breath and stretch your chest muscles. Clasp your hands together with both arms behind your back. Raise your arms into the stretch and hold it for ten to twenty seconds.
- Each day, stretch each arm as far across your chest as you can without feeling pain and hold it for at least twenty seconds.
- Hamstrings should be stretched:
Because this is a fragile muscle that is frequently injured by athletes, stretch it after you’ve warmed up.
- Sit with one leg extended in front of you and the other bent on the floor. Lean into the stretch on the back of your thigh by reaching forward with your hands and grabbing the foot on your outstretched leg. Hold the position for ten seconds. Rep with the opposite leg.
- You may execute a similar stretch while standing by putting one leg up on a bench, stool, or chair and reaching down for your foot while leaning into a stretch. Rep with the opposite leg.
- Concentrate on your back:
Limit this area to the hip and spine muscles and divide it into dorsal (back) and ventral (front) halves.
- For the dorsal side, focus on stretching your hips and hamstrings while avoiding stretching your spine (which is at risk of injury if you overwork it). Try lying down on your back and elevating both knees to your chest while pulling your head forward in a crunch.
- To stretch the abdominal muscles and hip flexors on the ventral side, try the yoga stance cobra.
- Concentrate on your legs:
Leg stretches are essential for maintaining range of motion, especially if you’re a runner or cyclist:
- Sit on the floor, right beside each other, with your legs as flat on the ground as possible. Stretch all the way down to your knees. Face forward rather than bending your head to face your knees. This will also extend your neck muscles; if doing this exercise affects your neck, stretch while facing your knees. Sit with your legs straight out in front of you and swing your right leg over your left leg a few times. Carry on with your left leg in the same manner.