Have you always wished you were more flexible? Flexibility is so important. It improves your posture and balance, and results in less pain and fewer injuries from everyday physical stressors. Flexibility allows for greater freedom of movement, as well as increased physical and mental relaxation. It releases muscle tension and soreness, helping you do everyday activities with ease. Ready to learn how to increase flexibility fast? Take a look at our best tips and favourite stretching exercises!
What is Flexibility?
Flexibility is the ability to move your joints and muscles through their complete range. We’re born quite flexible, but we lose flexibility as we age, especially if we don’t do any stretching exercises. Many people’s lives are very sedentary (especially those of us who work at a desk all day), so our bodies become lazy, our muscles become weaker, and our joint range becomes limited. Even if you’re active, your body will dehydrate and stiffen with age. By the time we become adults, our tissues have lost about 15 percent of their moisture content, making them much less supple.
Some areas of your body may be tight, while other areas may feel loose. You’ll likely be able to lengthen and move these muscles freely, while the tight areas will feel short and restricted. Unless you stretch on a regular basis, you can watch your flexibility go down the drain. Stretching slows the process of dehydration, encouraging the production of tissue lubricants. It’s key if you want to maintain flexibility!
Why Are Some People More Flexible Than Others?
Like many things in life, flexibility can be genetic, and some people will just naturally be more flexible than others. Don’t let this deter you from stretching though – even if you’re flexible due to genetics, stretching for 10 to 15 minutes per day will make a huge difference.
As you age, your muscles and joints become stiffer and less flexible. Many people are also more active when they’re younger, playing sports or spending more time outdoors. Having an inactive lifestyle and not stretching regularly throughout your life plays a big factor in lack of flexibility.
Muscle elasticity is essentially muscles and tendons working together to allow the body to stretch and return to its original state during and after exercise. As we age, we naturally lose some of our muscle elasticity, but stretching is a great way to maintain it.
Staying active will ensure your body achieves more flexibility. There are some exercises in particular, such as yoga, dance and pilates, which focus on stretching and flexibility. These types of movements also help with balance and muscle strength, making you very well rounded.
How to Increase Flexibility Fast: 3 Tips
1. Get Active
The more active and less sedentary your life is, the more flexible you will be. As we mentioned above, inactivity is one of the main reasons why your muscles and joints become stiff. Living a healthy, active lifestyle will help with mobility and flexibility!
2. Be Consistent
You’re not going to increase flexibility by doing a few stretches every now and then. Make stretching part of your daily routine – even 10 to 15 minutes per day can make a world of a difference!
3. Stretching Exercises and Flexibility Workouts
If you want to increase flexibility fast, make sure to do stretching exercises and workouts that foster flexibility, such as yoga and pilates. We’ve compiled a list of 7 of the best stretches to increase flexibility below!
7 Best Stretching Exercises to Increase Flexibility
1. Double Hamstring Stretch
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Your arms should be at your side. Exhale and bend forward at the hips, lowering your head toward the floor, and keeping your head, neck and shoulders relaxed. Wrap your hands around the back of your legs and hold from 30 seconds to two minutes.
2. Butterfly Stretch
The butterfly stretch loosens up your hips, glutes, back and thighs. Sit tall with the soles of your feet together and your knees bent out to the sides. Hold onto your ankles and slowly lower your body toward your feet while pressing your knees toward the floor. If you’re too tight to bend over in the beginning, press your knees down for a nice stretch. Hold for 30 seconds to two minutes.
3. Lunging Hip Flexor Stretch
This stretch stretches your hips, quads and glutes. Kneel on your left knee and place your right foot flat on the floor in front of you, with your knee bent. Lean forward, stretching your left hip toward the floor. Squeeze your bum (this will stretch your hip flexor even more). Hold for 30 seconds to two minutes, switch sides and repeat.
4. Tricep Stretch
Stand up tall and bend your right elbow above your head. Use your left hand to gently pull the right elbow in until you feel a stretch in your tricep. Keep your shoulders relaxed and reach your fingertips down your spine. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds then switch sides, repeating one to three times.
5. Shoulder Stretch
This stretch is amazing for your shoulders. It relieves tightness from poor posture and releases tension in the upper back. Sit on the floor with your legs crossed and your back up straight. Clasp your hands behind your lower back, straightening and extending your arms and squeezing your shoulder blades together. Hold for three seconds and release. Repeat five to 10 times.
6. Knee to Chest Stretch
This exercise stretches your lower back, hips and hamstrings. Lie on your back with both legs extended, then pull your right knee into your chest. Your left leg should be straight and your back flat on the ground. Hold for 30 seconds to two minutes, then repeat on the other side.
7. Seated Side Stretch
Sit down on a chair or other flat surface and clasp your hands straight above your head with your palms facing the ceiling. Keep your hips square and your shoulders down away from your ears. Stretch up and over to the right, feeling the stretch down your left side. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, then switch sides, repeating one to three times.
Ready to increase your flexibility like crazy? Do these stretching exercises on the daily and you’ll love how flexible you become!