Feel like you could be a little (or a lot) more flexible but don’t know how to get more limber? If so, you’ll want to take your journey toward increasing your flexibility seriously, especially if you’re working out regularly.
Having well-stretched muscles that are capable of moving in the ways you’d like them to move can help improve your mobility and balance, enhance your workouts, help prevent injuries, and decrease post-exercise discomfort. If you struggle with chronic pain, increasing your flexibility may even help lessen it.
So how do you go about limbering yourself up? Here are six simple tips you can implement to increase your flexibility.
1. Perform Dynamic Stretching Before Exercise
Dynamic stretches require you to move back and forth through a particular range of motion several times without holding a stretch or straining to lengthen a particular muscle. This type of stretching helps warm your muscles and joints up before exercise and will gradually increase your range of motion without pushing you to your flexibility limit.
Performing dynamic stretches for the muscle group(s) you plan to train will not only help improve your mobility during exercise but will also help reduce your risk of injuries during your workout. And the better you protect your body from exercise-related injuries, the more you’ll be able to work on improving your flexibility over time.
2. Perform Static Stretching After Exercise
After you work out, your muscles are warm and much more pliable than they are before you exercise, which can make holding a stretch easier. And when you’re better able to hold a stretch, you’ll make better flexibility gains over time.
To perform static stretching, make sure you hold your stretch for at least 20 seconds, preferably longer if you can. Repeat your stretch(es) for each muscle group two to four times for best results.
Check out our blog, Stretching 101 for more helpful tips!
3. Consider Foam Rolling
Studies suggest that regular foam rolling can produce similar gains in flexibility as static stretching. That’s because using your body weight to apply pressure to your soft tissues via foam rolling helps break up knots in your muscles and is essentially a form of self-massage.
By manually lengthening your muscles in this way, you’ll help improve their ability to stretch and even contract, which will help improve both your flexibility and physical performance over time.
4. Pay Special Attention to Particularly Tight Areas
Often, the (safe) stretches that are the most challenging for you are the ones that you need to perform the most. If you sit for work for several hours at a time, the front of your hips, your hamstrings, your chest, and your back could likely use daily stretching. If other areas of your body feel unusually tight or you feel restricted in your ability to move, those areas likely need the most attention.
If you’re already quite flexible, don’t try to stretch your muscles beyond a normal range of motion. Instead, you may want to spend more time strengthening muscles that support your joints to help reduce your risk of injuries.
5. Stretch Often
Improving your flexibility can take quite a while, and unfortunately, losing your flexibility gains doesn’t take much time at all. That’s why it’s so important to stay consistent and stretch frequently — preferably daily. Again, pay special attention to areas where you’re particularly tight, and if possible, stretch twice per day when you can.
6. Stretch Safely
Just because you’ve seen someone performing a certain stretch or even used to perform a particular stretch when you were younger doesn’t mean it’s still a safe stretch for you to do. In fact, some stretches can place vulnerable joints and/or tissues in compromised positions that could increase your potential for strains or other injuries.
When you’re stretching, you should never feel pain or pressure in a joint or in your muscles. If you do, you’re either performing an unsafe stretch or stretching a bit too far. If you’re unsure which stretches are safe for your unique physiology and physical limitations, work with a personal trainer who can help you.
You’ll get personalized guidance on safe stretching techniques and exercises, which will help you make progress toward your fitness goals while avoiding injuries.
Looking for Personal Training in the Twin Cities?
Need some expert guidance or accountability on your health and fitness journey? Our team at Envision Fitness in Hopkins, MN, would love to help you out! We specialize in gym-based personal training, group exercise classes, monthly health coaching plans, nutrition coaching, and more and would love to welcome you into our supportive fitness community. No matter where you are on your fitness journey or where you’re looking to go, we’ll be there for you every step of the way.
To learn more about our personal training or coaching services, feel free to give us a call at 952-444-2791 or request a free consultation online, and we’ll get in touch to get you scheduled!