If your yoga goal is to become more flexible, then you’re in the right place! This article has loads of in-depth advice, research and guidance for those of you hoping to improve your flexibility. Being more flexible has loads of extra benefits for your overall health and well-being.
This isn’t just for yogis, dancers, gymnasts, contortionists and the like. Many different sports and athletic disciplines will need good flexibility.
Having good flexibility goes far beyond a bit of stretching after a workout. Imagine be able to go through your day-to-day life without having any aches or pains, and no sore muscles whatsoever.
That sounds ideal, right?
In this article, you will learn:
- Why flexibility is so important in your fitness progress, overall general health and physical well-being
- The benefits of stretching’
- What happens to your body when you stretch regularly
- How to stretch safely and properly in order to avoid injuries
- How to become more flexible and the many benefits you will enjoy with improved flexibility
The Benefits of Becoming More Flexible
How you look after your body is important. Flexibility is about your freedom to move. It’s about being able to move freely with comfort and ease. You may be one of those lucky few born with natural flexibility, or you may have to work hard to achieve your stretching goals.
Flexibility is more than just physical, being able to stretch your body beyond the realms of what you thought possible has a huge mental benefit too. The freedom of being able to move comfortably has a wider impact on your well-being.
Fewer Aches and Pains
Once you become more flexible, you’ll start to notice that your body will be less achy after you exercise. If you’re young, this won’t be happening to you (yet), but you should get into a good stretching routine as soon as possible that you continue to keep yourself nimble as you get older.
You know how people complain about sore backs and aching joints? Well, focusing on your flexibility helps avoid those pains. By becoming more flexible, you’re much less likely to suffer in the long-run.
Improved Athletic Ability
If you participate in any form of sport that requires you to be flexible, especially gymnastics, aerial yoga or regular yoga, then by working on your flexibility you will find that your overall performance improves too. In fact, almost all sports call for flexible muscles!
Being more Flexible Feels Wonderful
It feels wonderful to be more flexible! Being able to stretch your body into new shapes, being able to put your palms on the ground without being your knees, or being able to sit in the full lotus position for hours on end is a great feeling. Remember, this is more that just accomplishment and pride, by choosing to get more flexible you’ve chosen to invest in yourself for the long-term. Use this opportunity to meditate or just enjoy how the stretch feels.
Hotter Sex Life
Sparing any details here, I’ll leave this to your imagination! But, the more flexible your hips and lower back are, well, you know what I’m talking about, and if you don’t, then you can guess.
How to Get More Flexible…and Fast!
Even if you’re not particularly flexible to begin with because you’re not blessed with natural flexibility, there are still plenty of things you can do to improve your flexibility.
Read more: 17 Tips for mastering the splits
Strengthen your Muscles
Strengthen all of the muscle groups that you want to get more flexible in. If you want a more flexible back, for example, then perform exercises to strengthen your lower back.
By strengthening the surround areas, you’re allowing for more movement. Always end your workout with a deep stretch.
Yoga teachers are always reminding students to breathe properly. That’s because it’s actually really important to breathe properly during stretches. You need to ensure that oxygen is flowing to all of your muscles, and that you exhale slowly the get the best benefit of the stretch, You should aim to take a deep breath in and perform your stretches while slowly exhaling. As you’re breathing out, you can stretch deeper and further as a result.
Stretch Only When You’re Warm
You know how hot yoga is so popular? That’s because stretching when you’re warm is much more beneficial and allows you to maximize your bodies flexibility, perhaps even push its limits. It’s essential that you only stretch deeply when you’re already warm. If you stretch when your muscles are cold, it will cause your muscles to stiffen up and could cause a minor injury.
The best times to stretch are:
- After you’ve finished a workout
- At the end of a long walk
- When you’ve come out of a sauna or hot tub at the gym
- After a hot bath or shower
- Outside when it’s hot and sunny
Your muscles are more elastic when they’ve been warmed up, so it’s easier to stretch further. Even if you’re really warm, be careful not to overstretch yourself, and don’t stretch further than what feels comfortable for you.
You can still perform gentle dynamic (moving) stretches during your warm up, such as rotating your joints or rocking them back and forth, just save the deep stretching for the end!
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Stretching Alone WON’T Make You Flexible
It’s actually a myth that stretching makes you more flexible. Overall movement will improve your flexibility, not stretching alone.
Stay generally active and ensure that all your muscle groups get their fair share of a workout, even if it’s a light workout, keep them moving!
Rotate your arms and shoulders, twist your hips, rotate your neck from side-to-side, swing your legs, just keep everything nicely ‘oiled’ and this will help your overall flexibility.
You need to move more so that you can stretch more!
When you’re figuring out your stretching routine, find something that works for you and that you can fit around, or incorporate into your existing regime. Try stretching while you’re watching TV, waiting for your nail polish to dry, or when you’re just bored.
Be aware of staying still for too long, if you work at a computer, take regular breaks and do some gentle stretching and get some general movement during those breaks.
Once you’ve found something that works for you that you’re comfortable with, stick with it!
Use Flexibility Equipment
Stretch against the wall, using a door frame, bed chair, or any other items around the house. Yoga blocks, resistance bands, yoga swings, and other specialist flexibility equipment is also available.
Related: 4 Aerial Yoga Poses for a Stronger & More Flexible Spine
Don’t Overstretch Yourself
During stretches, you should feel the pull of a stretch but it should not hurt or be painful. If it’s painful, you’re probably overstretching. This will not help in the long term.
Only you understand your own body, so stretch as far as you can manage and increase stretches slowly during exhales (not inhales).
Don’t force yourself to stretch further than what feels right,
Stretch your Whole Body
Stretch your fingers and your toes too! Don’t forget the smaller muscles. Most people just focus on the larger muscles but all of the small muscles need a good stretch too.
The hip flexor muscles are important for flexibility. So, if you want to get more flexible it’s worth checking out some exercises for your hips in particular. The hip flexor muscles are the supposed Holy Grail; the “hidden survival muscle” in your body that will boost your energy levels, and ultimately improve your flexibility.
The #1 Hip Mobility Stretch Mistake
Try Aerial Yoga
Aerial Yoga is the practice of performing poses and inversions using a hammock or swing that’s suspended from the ceiling or door frame. It’s what this entire website is all about!
Aerial yoga had many health benefits, improved flexibility being one of them! It also vastly improves your spinal health and flexibility, so if the backbend is your ultimate goal then aerial yoga is definitely one for you,
Aerial Yoga is a unique exercise that has elements of cardio, strength and flexibility training. This means that you get a full-body workout in one session. There are so many other benefits to aerial exercise, including:
- Improved lung function
- Promotes digestive health
- Improved blood circulation
- Reduced stress and anxiety
Regular yoga is also a brilliant exercise for improving flexibility if you’re not quite ready to fly just yet with aerial yoga 😉
If you’re entirely new to yoga, check out this yoga burn fitness programme will help you along your flexibility journey!
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