Can’t bend over and touch your toes? You would thinkis something you were born with ̵
Like anything else, developing flexibility takes practice. It takes just as much consistency asor . It may not be easy, but it is certainly doable, and you can get started with these easy ways to become more flexible.
1. Begin and end each day with static stretches
Static holdperhaps the simplest method to improve flexibility. Static stretching includes all flexibility exercises that require a muscle to be held in a stretched position for a significant amount of time, usually about 30 seconds. This allows you to isolate a muscle and stretch it deeply. Starting and ending your day with static stretches – just 5 to 10 minutes – can make a big difference in how flexible your muscles feel on a daily basis.
Static stretches you may already be familiar with include:
Some advanced static stretching exercises include:
2. Perform dynamic stretches before and after exercise
Dynamic stretches, unlike static stretches, continuously move your muscles and joints through their full range of motion. This type of stretch feels much more powerful than static stretching and can even increase your heart rate.
Dynamic stretching doesn’t isolate muscles so much as static stretching; this type of active stretching is more likely to work several muscles at the same time and teach you how to use your muscles and joints to support deeper and smoother movements. Performing dynamic stretches before your workout ensures a good warm-up, and doing a few after your workout will help return your body to resting (instead of just getting cold after heavy sweating ).
Examples of dynamic stretching exercises include:
Mash your muscles a few times a week
You may feel inflexible because of adhesions in your fascia, a type of connective tissue that covers your muscles, bones and joints. What people call “muscle knots” often occurs in the fascia (although your muscle tissue can also develop gnarled areas).
If you have many of these adhesions, which can arise from prolonged periods of sedentary behavior and intense physical activity, try adding self-myofascial release to your routine. Self-myofascial release is essentially self-massage with the goal of “loosening” those tight knots from your body tissues. You can do self myofascial release with a foam roller, lacrosse ball, muscle roller, or massage gun.
These myofascial release exercises can help:
4. Practice rotating movements
Your ability or inability to fully rotate your spine and ball joints (hips and shoulders) greatly affects your overall flexibility level. Your spine, hips, and shoulders dictate most of the movements you make every day, whether you realize it or not: every time you step, reach, bend, turn, sit or stand, you use your spine along with your hips or shoulders . If you don’t actively practice turning these joints, you are missing out on your potential for flexibility.
Try these rotating exercises to improve flexibility:
Create a flexibility training program
In addition to your usual exercises, such as lifting weights or walking, try to devote a few minutes each day to flexibility training. Time constraints can make it difficult to prioritize flexibility exercises, but if you really want to get flexible, commit to regular exercise.
Here’s one way to incorporate flexibility training into your exercise routine:
- Morning: 5 minutes static stretch, focus on the lower body
- Before training: 10 minutes of dynamic stretching all over the body
- Post workout: 5 minutes of myofascial release on the muscles you worked
- Before going to sleep: 5 minutes of static stretching, focus on the upper body
By spending just a few minutes at a time, you can get nearly half an hour of flexibility training every day you exercise.
You can always shorten your active training time slightly to include flexible work. For example, if you usually walk for 60 minutes a day, walk for 50 minutes and end your walk with 10 minutes of stretching. Ultimately, becoming more flexible has everything to do with prioritizing flexibility as a goal.
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care practitioner if you have any questions about a medical condition or health goals.