Do you wish that you could be more flexible? Many people regret losing the natural flexibility that they enjoyed as children, but you do not have to simply accept your body stiffening up as you get older. Follow these simple tips to improve your flexibility safely and steadily.
Flexibility is not something that can be developed overnight. It takes time and patience to persuade your muscles to relax and your ligaments to lengthen. The best way to gradually develop flexibility is to stretch every single day. Try to get into a routine, for example by setting aside ten minutes in the morning or evening to do your stretches.
Here are some stretches that you can use to improve the flexibility of various parts of your body.
1. Leg Stretches
Many people struggle with tightness in their hamstrings, the ligaments in the backs of the legs that give support to the powerful thigh muscles. To loosen the hamstrings, try the following.
1. Sit on the floor with your legs out straight in front of you. Flex your ankles so your toes point at the ceiling.
2. Breathe in and straighten your spine upwards as much as possible.
3. Bend forward from the hips, keeping your back straight. Aim to take your heart forwards toward your toes.
4. If you can reach your toes, take hold of them with your hands.
5. If you can’t reach your toes, either hold your ankles or hold onto a belt that you hook around your feet.
6. Hold the stretch for at least five breaths.
Another useful stretch for the legs is to stand up and place your feet wide apart. Bend forward from the hips as in the exercise described above, keeping the legs straight and engaging the thigh muscles to support the legs and allow the hamstrings to release. Place your hands on the ground and gradually walk them back between your legs, as far as you can go. Hold for a few minutes before bending the knees slightly and standing up.
2. Back Stretches
Back stretches should always be carried out with extreme caution to avoid injury. Never push yourself beyond what you can comfortably achieve. In most back stretches, the neck should be kept in line with the spine – do not be tempted to stretch the neck at an awkward angle to make the stretch feel deeper.
Start with this simple spinal twist:
1. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you.
2. Bend the right knee and place the foot flat on the floor to the left of your left knee.
3. Inhale deeply and sit up tall with a straight spine.
4. Turn your torso to the right, gently twisting the spine from the hips to the shoulders.
5. Place your right hand behind you on the floor to stabilize you, and press the back of your left elbow against your right knee to accentuate the twist.
6. Hold the twist for at least five breaths, then repeat on the other side.
If you struggle with poor flexibility or even pain in your back, this online course on preventing back pain could help to strengthen the back and core muscles, allowing you to twist safely and without pain.
Get Hooked on Yoga
If you are serious about improving your flexibility, practicing yoga could help you to achieve this goal. Yoga is an exercise for the whole body and works on improving both strength and flexibility.
Once you have tried yoga and seen for yourself how it could help you, use these courses to work on particular postures for improving flexibility: