Tight hips? Tight hamstrings? Tight calves? It is time to loosen up! When it comes to fitness and doing workouts it might not sound exciting to add in stretching to your workout, but it is absolutely essential for a well-rounded full bodied routine to help the body be healthy and strong.
To avoid the body getting stiff from sitting down all day working at the desk or general inactivity, it is important to do some stretching exercises to improve flexibility, reduce tightness and avoid injuries in workouts and day to day life. Loosening up tight muscles will help your body to move more efficiently and perform at its best – whether that’s in running, lifting weights or picking up a child.
How Can I Become Really Flexible?
The best place to start with a good stretching routine is to just start. Keep it simple and add in a few basic stretches daily and see how your body feels. Never push your muscles too far as this can pull a muscle and cause major damage to the tissue. Go as far as is comfortable with each stretch and take it slowly. It is important to not rush stretching – this is not an intense workout – it is simply a stretching session.
Doing a bit each day, or most days of the week, consistently over a period of time will help the body to get flexible and the muscles to loosen up which in turn can help you get really flexible. There are no guarantees and time frames as it really depends on your starting point with how tight or flexible you are when you begin a new stretching routine.
How Can I Get Flexible in 5 Minutes?
Many of us want results instantly, unfortunately that is not the case with getting flexible. Improving flexibility will take time which is why it is important to commit to a stretching routine if your goal is to become flexible. The older we get and the less we stretch, the tighter our muscles will get. So it really depends on your fitness background and how long it has been since you have been flexible. If you are a complete beginner then expect the process to take a little longer.
Dedicating 5 minutes per day to a simple stretching routine can help improve flexibility. Check out these three basic yoga-inspired stretches to add to your daily stretching routine to become flexible.
This move stretches hamstring and muscles that support the spine whilst boosting mobility in the shoulders. It also opens the hips and strengthens the core. Step feet 3 to 4 feet apart, turn the left foot out, and right foot slightly in. Raise arms parallel to the floor. Hinge at left hip, rotate so the left torso comes down over the left leg. Rest the left hand on lower leg and reach the right hand straight up from the shoulder. Hold, then return to the start. Repeat on the other side.
Folded Forward Bend
This move stretches the hamstrings and back muscles. It also calms the nervous system and is excellent for relaxing the mind. Start seated on the floor, inhale the arms up over the head, lift and lengthen through the fingers to the top of the head. Exhale and hinging at the hips, slowly lower the torso towards the legs. Reach the hands to the toes, feet, ankles or calves. Breathe and hold for 3 to 5 breaths. Slowly roll the spine back up to a seated position.
Downward Facing Dog
This popular yoga pose is well-known for good reason as it works! It stretches the back, opens the chest, and builds upper body strength. Start on the floor on hands and knees. Tuck the toes under, press into the hands and lift the hips up towards the ceiling. Spread the fingers wide apart with the hands shoulder width apart. Press through the hands into the floor. Straighten the arms, but don’t lock them out, press the hips up and back reaching the chest towards the thighs. Keep the spine straight and long. Keep the feet hip width apart with the toes facing forward. Press the heels towards the floor, with the legs straight or with a slight bend in the knees. Keep the head and neck hanging freely. Breathe and hold for 3 to 5 breaths. Bend the knees and lower the hips back to the floor onto hands and knees.
Check out these articles for yoga inspiration to help with flexibility: