Flexibility can improve so many aspects of your life. Not only can it make it easier for you to touch your toes, but also it can improve your quality of life as you age. Flexible joints and muscles are far less prone to pain when compared to their stiff counterparts. Additionally, a flexible body moves and bends gracefully and can fend off injuries from sports and other physical activities much better than a stiff body can. If you have trouble touching your toes, doing a lunge or touching your palms together behind your back or if you merely want to be able to do the splits, check out these five easy ways to improve your flexibility over the next several months.
Stretch after Exercise
Regular stretching sessions can gradually increase flexibility as the muscles continue to get longer and leaner. This type of stretching can be easily added on to another type of workout. However, keep in mind that most stretching should be done when the muscles are warm. Stretching cold muscles can lead to injuries and muscle tears. When the muscles are warm, they will become longer and more pliant.
Start Dynamic Stretching Exercises
When you think of stretching, you most likely think of isometric or static stretching that is easy and does not require much muscle work. Dynamic stretching means that you are working and stretching the muscles simultaneously. Instead of holding the stretch at its completed position, you would actively move the muscle, such as in a pulsing lunge.
Yoga uses both static and dynamic stretches throughout many of its positions. Some of the best poses for flexibility include downward-facing dog, cobbler’s pose, triangle pose and forward bends. Even if you do not want to do a full yoga routine, you can tack these poses on to the end of any active workout.
See a Massage Therapist
A massage is certainly one of the most pleasant ways to improve your flexibility. A regular massage can work knots and kinks out of your muscles that are holding you back from your full range of motion. It improves the movement in the tendons, ligaments and joints and can align the muscles.
See a Physical Therapist
If your lack of flexibility is due to an injury, such as from an auto accident or sports, physical therapy can get you back to your normal range of motion. In fact, a physical therapist nyc may even be able to teach you exercises and techniques that you can use at home for fluid movement and limber joints. A good physical therapist will start with passive range of motion exercises that he or she performs on your joints and will follow with active range of motion exercises that you perform yourself.
Remember that flexibility is only one part of a healthy exercise program. Cardio training and strength training also have their place in toning the muscles, strengthening the bones and keeping the heart and lungs working well. Flexibility makes it easier for your bones and joints to move during exercise and everyday life. It can fend off injury and bring more nutrient-rich blood to your muscles over time. Even a short practice to improve flexibility two to three times a week can create improvements over time.