Have you ever wondered why you feel tight or stiff in the mornings, after a workout, or after a long day at work (stay-at-home parents, you’re included in this)… It’s your level of flexibility, and it needs to be improved!
Now, I’m not saying we all should be able to slide into a split at a moment’s notice, but we all should have good flexibility that fits with our lifestyle. Gymnasts clearly have more flexibility than football players, but they each have the appropriate amount of flexibility for their jobs, and you can too.
Stretching, fortunately, doesn’t require special equipment or a special gym, you can do it in your bedroom every morning or before bedtime. However, be sure to always stretch after every workout, no matter how easy or hard. Yoga is also a great workout that focuses on stretching the body! Here are my tips for improving and increasing your flexibility levels:
Commit to your flexibility routine: Whether it’s a few stretches every morning or joining a yoga class, commit and stay dedicated. Ideally, you should stretch for 10-20 minutes everyday. Continuous, repetitive stretching will lend itself to great flexibility improvement.
Breathe deeply: When stretching breathe deeply and slowly. It is crucial in stretching, it also calms the body during uncomfortable poses. Deep breathing also oxygenates the muscles and allows blood to flow more freely helping to remove the lactic acid.
Breathe into your muscles: This is something we do in yoga… It sounds more complicated then it really is… As you inhale, imagine the breath moving through your body down to the muscle you are focusing on. As you exhale, watch the muscle relax and move deeper into your stretch.
Contract and release: While in a stretch, contract (tighten) your muscle for 20 seconds, then release and move deeper into your stretch. As the muscle is forced to hold a contraction it has the ability to relax greater during the release, which will help increase your flexibility.
Repeat your stretches: Repetition is the key to increasing your flexibility. Repeat your stretch routine 2-3 times for optimal flexibility.