Flexibility is the ability to move your muscles in their full range of motion, and it’s essential for movement in our everyday lives. As we get older, our bodies become less limber, and flexibility training is an important part of keeping your joints moving freely.
Everyone has their own unique flexibility. Getting flexible can be difficult, and it requires a lot of patience to see real results. But it’s not too late to improve your flexibility, especially if you work it into your fitness routine and make it a habit.
Start with a warm-up
Before stretching, make sure you warm up your muscles with light walking, jogging or biking at a low intensity for 5 to 10 minutes. This can help prevent injuries.
Dress appropriately to stretch
The clothes you wear can affect your flexibility, so make sure to choose breathable fabrics that are non-restrictive and allow your body to move easily. Think yoga pants, athletic shorts or gym shirts.
Do a variety of stretches
The best way to improve your flexibility is to do different types of stretches every day, says Sheahan. This will help keep your muscles engaged and help them become stronger.
She also suggests incorporating mobility flow into your workouts, which is a series of stretches that transition from one movement to the next without stopping. This type of stretching can increase muscle length and help you limber up all over, according to Sheahan.
Identify the problem
If you feel stiff or tight in your muscles, it’s time to get a doctor’s or physical therapist’s opinion about how to address the problem. A therapist can also help you find the most effective ways to improve your flexibility, and recommend exercises that will benefit your specific situation.
Focus on major muscle groups
The easiest and most effective way to build strength is to focus on the big muscles in your body. These include your calves, thighs, hips and lower back. Try to include a combination of squats, lunges and twists as a part of your flexibility routine.
Avoid bouncing and jumps
You may think jumping is a great way to stretch, but jumping can actually damage your muscles and joints. Instead, do stretches that you can hold for 30 seconds or longer and then repeat them 3 to 5 times.
Always breathe normally during a stretch and never jerk your muscles, which can lead to injury.
Be patient and persistent
Whether you’re trying to improve your flexibility for sport or for everyday activities, it’s important to take your time to get the results you want. Stick with it, and you’ll be well on your way to a more flexible you in no time!
Strive for symmetry
Everyone’s genetics are slightly different, so it’s helpful to target both sides of your body when it comes to flexibility. Achieving a level of symmetry is especially important for athletes who have a history of injury.
Consider a massage
A regular massage can not only improve your flexibility, but it can reduce pain and stress. Plus, it can break up knots in muscles and tissues that restrict movement.