Flexibility is something that many people attribute only to dancers and gymnasts, and it decreases the older we get. The reality is, though, that flexibility can actually lead to decreased injury and muscle pain.
Improving flexibility may seem difficult, especially when you try to stretch and can barely reach your knees when leaning forward. That’s okay; flexibility doesn’t happen over night. Here are some ways you can improve your flexibility and decrease pain and injury in the process.
- Stretch – Yeah, I know, we just said that stretching might seem dreadful. Stretching regularly, though, including before a work out, can drastically improve your flexibility incrementally. It can even make a big difference in the results you see from your work outs because your muscles will be able to do more without pain. Stretch in the morning, and work stretching into your basic exercise routine, but make sure to stretch warmed-up muscles so as to avoid injury! Take a walk or walk in place for a couple minutes before stretching. It will get easier as you keep stretching every day, and soon you’ll notice increased flexibility!
- Stretch every day, but avoid over-stretching. Make sure not to stretch too deeply so that it hurts. You do not want it to hurt. Do one stretch until you feel some relief and like you could stretch further, and then move on to another stretch.
- Range of Motion – When doing strength training, some people tend to avoid full range of motion because it increases strength. However, utilizing your full range of motion when lifting weights can actually help improve flexibility. Going full depth on a squat helps improve hip flexibility. Be sure to use light weight while working on flexibility to avoid injury when utilizing full range of motion.
- Yoga – Basically a form of stretching, yoga is one of the best physical things to do for stretching. Since it is slow and controlled, your body is focusing on strengthening and stretching the muscles. Try beginner poses, and you’ll feel immediate relief. You can find yoga for specific types of pain, and even for sleep relief, online as well.
- Drink Water – Trying to train your muscles to do anything—even stretch out to improve flexibility—can’t work without them being properly hydrated. In order for the muscles to function properly, they must have enough hydration. This can cause performance declines in exercise as well as stretching, and even if you’re stretching every single day, if you’re dehydrated, it won’t make a difference. Try increasing the amount of water you drink (average recommended water consumption is half your body weight in ounces; for example, if you weigh 120 pounds, you should consume around 60 ounces of water daily).
- Massage – That’s right, the thing that feels so good is also great for flexibility. When knots build up in muscles and tissue, they restrict your movement so your flexibility is not at its very best. Getting a massage (and foam rolling between massages) gets rid of those knots and the waste products that are built up in your muscles, allowing your muscles to fully stretch.
Contact us at Strongsville Massage for more information on how we can help you improve your flexibility.