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How Do I Improve Flexibility?

A flexible woman doing yoga.
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  • Written By: Adam Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 15 October 2014
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Good flexibility is not just an enviable trait exhibited by athletes and performing artists, but it can be a part of each of our lives. Exercises designed to improve flexibility can be good for the body's overall health as well as reducing levels of stress and improving circulation. It can take a long time, sometimes even years, to greatly improve flexibility, and a consistent, daily effort is required. It doesn't take a long time to start seeing the benefits of flexibility exercises, even if the ultimate goal seems a long way off.

The most important step toward improved flexibility is to make it a daily pursuit. Even missing just one day can be a significant setback, so consistency and patience are paramount. It is also a good idea to vary the stretches that you do when trying to improve flexibility. This will not only help more than one set of muscles become flexible, but it will also serve to break the potential monotony of doing the same stretches over and over again.

When you stretch, you are pushing your muscles to limits they are not used to reaching. Carelessness can lead to injuries and pain, so be sure to stretch in safe, natural positions. A mild burning feeling is normal and healthy, but stop if you feel any sudden pain. This is usually a warning sign from the body that injury is imminent.

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Normal discomfort can be alleviated by breathing deeply while stretching, since this delivers the oxygen that muscles need so much during that time. Breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth is best. It may be also beneficial to use a chair or other sturdy object for balance while stretching, and to help you distribute your weight more effectively.

The stretching routines used by each person will vary, but should focus on each major muscle group to some extent. Though it may take time to improve flexibility in the way that you want to, most people only need to dedicate ten to 15 minutes per day to stretching exercises to achieve this goal. Also, many people notice a significant difference in flexibility in the first two weeks. While this can be satisfying, it can be tempting to stop once some progress has been made. The best way to avoid this is to go into it with the mindset that stretching exercises will be a daily part of your life from now on, not only to improve flexibility, but overall health and well-being also.

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Catapult
Post 6

@Sara007- Unfortunately there is no easy answer, whether you're a little overweight or a lot, or even if you're just out of shape. Some people seem to be naturally flexible, but I think that's rare.

For most of us, we just have to go slowly. Start with simple calf, leg, and arm stretches, and remember to warm up a little first- stretching cold can cause injury too. After awhile it might be easier to include things like planks, which are great for abs and arms, and things like a butterfly stretch for your legs and hips, and toe touches.

I like yoga but I don't think that is really for everyone. You can improve flexibility with simpler stretches if that's your main interest.

myharley
Post 5

I love to ski in the winter, but know it is going to be hard on my legs if I don't do some exercises before we go.

Once fall comes, I try to improve my hamstring flexibility so I can ski all day long without getting tired.

For some reason downhill skiing is really hard on my hamstrings, and I try to keep them flexible and toned up so they won't take so much abuse.

I have a set of exercises that takes me about 10-15 minutes to go through. If I am faithful about doing these several days a week, it keeps my body much more flexible and reduces the chance of an injury.

LisaLou
Post 4

If you just let things go on a natural course, you seem to lose a lot of flexibility as you get older. Like anything, it takes consistent work to stay flexible and in shape.

I have been trying to improve my lower back flexibility. It seems like my back is stiff in the mornings and after doing some extra work that my back muscles are not used to.

I figure if I can work on keeping my back flexible, I won't notice such a difference when I do some extra yard work.

It seems like many people have back problems, and I think this would be miserable to live with this all the time. I am trying to keep my back flexible with stretching exercises so it stays strong and won't get out of place as easily.

John57
Post 3

For many years I was regular and consistent with my exercise. Once I got out of the habit, it was hard to discipline myself to get back in to a regular routine.

What I noticed most was how much flexibility I seemed to have lost. It took many months of stretching before each work out session to get back to where I was before I quit exercising.

Since you lose your flexibility gradually over time, it is something you don't think much about until you need to bend down to get something. Even getting up off the floor makes a big difference if you don't stay flexible.

I don't know if there is an effective way to improve flexibility fast. My muscles and ligaments really needed to work at this slowly and consistently so I wouldn't get an injury.

Sara007
Post 2

How do you improve your flexibility if you are overweight and have trouble moving about easily?

I am not hugely overweight, but I find it difficult to maintain floor poses for any length of time without experiencing quite a bit of pain.

I want to improve my overall flexibility and focus on how to improve leg flexibility.

Right now I am eating better and doing a lot of cardio work, but I find that my lack of flexibility is really impacting how effective my workouts are. I can't afford a personal trainer, so if anyone has any tips it would be much appreciated.

manykitties2
Post 1

If you want to know how to improve flexibility I would suggest signing up for a yoga class. Yoga classes are available for beginners and they have done an amazing job at improving my overall flexibility.

I think that yoga is challenging when you first start up, but once you get the initial poses down you can start pushing yourself to do more. I think that my improved back flexibility has been well worth the effort needed to do well in a yoga class.

Also, if you aren't up for a yoga class just yet, try buying a workout DVD and picking up a cheap yoga mat so you can start at your own pace.

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