Nowadays, most of us have a job that requires a lot of sitting at the desk, in front of the computer. Besides, we don’t have time for properly balanced meals; we often just grab something quick for lunch. However, many people try to introduce exercise as part of their daily routine. But we are more focused on weight control and gaining strength than flexibility. The only time when we start thinking that we should do something with our flexibility is when we understand that even the basic stretches can be problematic.
Before we go on discussing why it is important and how to increase flexibility, let’s see what’s in the first place. The level of flexibility varies depending on plenty of factors, some of which we cannot change like sex, age, and genetics. However, there are a lot of things that each of us can do to find ways to improve flexibility.
Many people and you might be among them think that these seemingly simple stretches that you see someone doing in the gym are utterly boring. But keep in mind that if you go to any martial arts class, for example, this stretching routine will be an inseparable part of it. It means that you have to focus on the full-body stretch. Actually, any sport involves some flexibility workout. So what’s the deal there and why is flexibility necessary? It is as essential as any cardio or strength training for overall well being. We can work on strengthening our muscles, but if we don’t do stretch exercises, we’ll have problems because our muscles get shorter and lose elasticity. When you include stretching in your workout, you will notice how your muscles grow in size.
Knowing different ways of how to increase flexibility can also be excellent for improving your daily life. Did it happen to you that you bend to get something from the floor and find yourself unable to come back up? Well, you will quickly forget about such problems if you start doing stretching exercises for flexibility. Bear in mind that pain is your friend in this case because it signals that there is a serious issue with your muscles and joints that requires attention. It is also important to point out that flexibility plays an important role in better blood flow which leads to lesser risks of cardiovascular and many other diseases.
When you are a beginner, you might be wondering how to gain flexibility and what would be the best way for you. We would like to go through different ways how to become flexible. We hope you will find the most suitable ones.
Exercise and Stretching
People often think that stretching is just part of a warm-up, but in fact, these are entirely different things. You need to warm up before you start even if you are doing the easy stretches. Because flexibility doesn’t get the attention it deserves, many beginners make a mistake by doing simple stretches before anything else. Not only that the workout becomes way more difficult and painful, but doing it this way can result in muscle strains and injuries. Try jogging, running or cycling for about 20 minutes before beginning your stretching routine, and you will surely avoid problems and enjoy much better results. Maybe exercise in general is an entirely new concept in your life and you feel that running or cycling for 20 minutes is too much. In that case, do some other activity, like vacuuming or shopping for groceries before stretching exercises for flexibility.
Stretching can also be a great finish of your daily workout. Your body is fully worked up and muscles warm and loose enough so stretching can be as painless as possible.
There are three main types of stretching: dynamic, static, and ballistic. Ballistic stretching is quite controversial because it carries high risks of injury due to extremely quick movement. Most fitness experts don’t recommend it; therefore, we will focus only on the first two.
Now, before we go on discussing how to gain flexibility, we want to see what a general rule is for stretching? While there are no rules for deciding between the types of stretching exercises, there are some other things that you should think about.
- Be in relaxed and comfortable
- Stretch muscles slowly
- Combine static and dynamic stretches
- Stretch before and after workouts
When you only see people doing static stretching, it’s not surprising to think that it is quite dull. If this is the case, but you still want to know how to increase flexibility, then we advise you to check out a dynamic type. The main point of these exercises is to get the body going, and they can be pretty good warm-up activity. There are a lot of movements that you can do to work your muscles and joints when you are engaged in dynamic stretching. None of them require that you stay in the position specific amount of time. There isn’t also any specific rule on how many times you should repeat the movements. Do them as long as you feel comfortable and increase rounds slowly. Dynamic stretches are excellent for people who are doing weight lifting or cardio training. If you are wondering how to get flexible fast, this is an excellent way to start.
Static stretching is a type of flexibility workout that most people are familiar with. Some talk about static and passive stretching interchangeably as if they are the same, but in fact, there are some differences. With static stretching, you do the exercises by yourself, meaning you go to the farthest point of a challenging position and try to keep it for as long as possible. You must feel comfortable regardless of the difficulty of the task. The passive form is a type of static stretching, but you are just relaxed, and your partner provides the force. One most known beginner stretches when It comes to static one is an exercise in which you sit on the floor with your legs straight. There are many other flexibility exercises for beginners as well. The point is in touching the tip of your toe by leaning forward. It is a perfect exercise to improve the flexibility of the lower back, which is something a lot of people who are sitting in offices all they long struggle with.
Yoga and Pilates
There isn’t a single person who hasn’t at least heard about yoga and/or pilates. There are even people who think that they are variations of the same discipline, but the truth is they are completely different. Yoga is a common name for a discipline that contains groups of various physical but also mental and spiritual exercises that originated in ancient India. It is focused on different ‘asana’ meaning postures and breathing techniques to increase strength. Many people are wondering does yoga help with flexibility so we will address this issue. The asana techniques stretch your muscles and increase range of motion, so yoga makes you being flexible. If you want to practice yoga at home, the best way is to watch an adequate yoga video or yoga DVD set. Pilates, on another hand, is a set of physical exercises that are designed to improve muscle strength and flexibility and has nothing to do with mental health or spirituality. Pilates is considered to provide the best stretches for dance flexibility. Both of these disciplines significantly improve range of movement, coordination, balance, alleviate muscle and joint pains, thus contribute to greater flexibility.
Because flexibility exercises are often neglected and denied the importance they deserve, you might still have a lot of questions on how to improve flexibility. That’s why we are going to discuss some of the important details to provide you with adequate information.
Lots of people wonder when is the best time to do flexibility exercises and how long does it take to increase flexibility so we will start from there.
To have the best effects from flexibility workout, it is important to do it daily and both before and after your training session. It is important to remember that the muscles should be warm to stretch more without pain. Start with warm-up following gentle static stretching exercises, and as your training progresses, you will slowly incorporate dynamic exercises. If you are wondering about the time of the day for stretching, we will tell you that there isn’t any particular rule. The best is to do it when you know you have enough time to do it properly. Remember that there are benefits regardless of whether you are stretching in the morning or in the evening. These exercises can make you relaxed in the evening and wake you up in the morning so you won’t make a mistake whenever you decide to do them.
When we are talking about the time necessary to increase flexibility, we would like to emphasize that it is quite individual. It depends on how much you work out, how flexible you were before starting, and so on. There is no universal rule on how to
get flexible fast. But let’s say that if you work 5 days per week, you will notice significant changes in a couple of weeks.
Then, there are few other things that we would like to share so you can enjoy more pleasurable training.
- Don’t force yourself. Follow your body, stretch until its comfortable and slowly progress
- Make flexibility exercises part of your daily routine by doing them 10 minutes each day.
- Do warm-ups before you start. Don’t do static stretching as part of the warm-up
- Dynamic exercises can be warm-up for the training session
- Avoid rapid and bouncing movements like in ballistic stretching
- Learn how to breathe. Yoga can be super helpful for this
- Take time to relax
- Include massage
- Combine a variety of exercises, so you don’t get bored
The most important thing is to follow the guidelines and do things carefully. Keep in mind that flexibility exercises aren’t as simple as they might appear, and they can be quite demanding. It is quite common for many of us to want to see the results quickly when we engage in a new activity. However, as these workouts are more complicated than they seem, and if you are rushing things, you might end up getting injured. It is best to follow your own pace to avoid any problems and keep on enjoying exercises. Remember that flexibility isn’t about speed but disciple and patience. If you do these workouts regularly, the results will be there before you know it.
We hope that we managed to break misconceptions and answer your questions about how to increase flexibility. If you incorporate some of the flexibility workouts, you will see that all of the other training you do will give even better results. Remember that we here at gym-expert.com are always trying to find the best answers to whatever questions you might have regarding physical activities and health. You can find various pieces of advice and guidelines about nutrition, equipment, and clothes such as the best women’s workout shirts.
Also, we would like to hear your experiences regarding flexibility exercises. Write your comments in the section below!