As a young gymnast, teenage ballet dancer and now yogi/Pilates instructor, being flexible has always been part of my life and I can't imagine what my body would feel like if I couldn't touch my toes or do a bridge. But what if you didn't go to ballet school, or you can't do yoga every day, yet you want to get flexible, why should you get flexible? Well in this post I am going to tell you why improving your flexibility will change your life. I work with tons of clients every day who tell me how stretching regularly has improved their back pain, hip pain, walking, running and every day life down to being able to play with their children or do the gardening. I'm also going to share with you my favourite stretch routine that you can do every day to lead you to a happier healthier bendy body.
Stretching is about lengthening muscles or tendons to improve the muscles elasticity and tone. Stretching also increases range of movement in joints. Stretching will improve your performance in other activities and daily life. Regular stretching and stretching before and after physical activity will help prevent injuries and ensure your body is healthy as you age. However, be aware that excessive and unstable stretching and range of movement may also lead to injury which is why it is vital to make sure your have correct technique and form when doing a flexibility routine.
Stretching can seem like a chore but a lot of people don’t understand the importance of it. If your priority is always to get a cardio, interval or a weight training session in because of time then let me tell you this could be where you could have been going wrong and stretching can change the way you approach your fitness forever!
Your training will improve from regular stretching, your body will feel free of tension and be more capable to perform certain moves that may be required of you in workouts as well as in general everyday life. Regular stretching can prevent you from many problems in the future especially with regards to back pain.
Stretching will increase the range of movement at your joints, release tight muscles and keep connective tissue pliant creating balance in your body. This means lengthened and lean muscles and a healthy supple bod. I also believe there is a relationship between a flexible mobile body and the mind. If you body is free of tension then so your mind will be.
I know it can be hard getting to an extra yoga or Pilates session so here are my favorite stretches that you can do at home easily to start or end your day.
Stretch your way to a happier healthier body!
Start on your hands and knees then round your back so it curves. Feel your tail bone tuck under and your chin tuck in and gently draw your navel to your spine then lengthen the spine out straight. Repeat this 8-10 times.
Start on your hands and knees then push your hips up the ceiling as your stretch your spine and legs into an upside down V positive. Don’t aim to get your legs straight but focus on lengthening your lower back. Then start to try and get your heels down towards the floor. Hold for 10 seconds then put your knees back on the mat, repeat 3 times.
Start sitting upright with the soles of your feet together and your hands around your shins, nod your chin to your chest then stretch forwards over your legs. Hold for 10 seconds then roll your spine back upright, repeat 3 times.
Start in a kneeling position on your mat, take a big step forwards with your right leg so that you are in a lunge position. Ensure that your right knee is no further forwards then the right toes. Keeping your torso upright, press your hips forwards so you get a stretch in your back hip and thigh. Reach your arms up to the ceiling without arching the back. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 3 times on each legs.
Start laying on your back and then cross one leg all the way over the other leg as if sitting cross legged then start to draw both knees in towards your chest and hold on to each foot. Try to gently pull your feet in opposite directions whilst drawing your knees to your chest and keeping your bottom on the floor. Hold for 30 seconds on each side.
Start on your hands and knees then take the back of your right hands under your chest on to the mat, bend your left elbow and turn your head to the left whilst threading your right arm through the space between your left arm and your legs. Hold the twist for 10 seconds and repeat 3 times on each side.
Start by laying flat on your stomach on your mat. Bring your hands either side of your head; slowly extend your spine and arms to bring your chest of the mat, keeping your shoulders down and your navel in. Slowly lower yourself back to the mat. Repeat 3 times.
Start standing tall and interlace your hands behind your back with your arms straight and slowly start to reach your arms away from your body, opening across your chest and shoulders. Hold for 10 counts and repeat 3 times.
Start standing tall then slowly roll your spine down over your legs, vertebra by vertebra, it’s okay if you slightly bend your knees. Hold for 10 counts then slowly roll up to standing and repeat 3 times.
by Jessica Ward
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