8 easy ways to boost your flexibility
Increasing your flexibility can help to reduce joint injuries and keep you healthier and fitter as you age, not to mention it will improve your athletic performance and is essential for dancers, gymnasts and anyone practicing yoga, pilates or martial arts. The less flexible your joints and muscles are, the more likely it is you'll suffer an injury, which could be caused by something as simple as reaching for something on a high shelf. So how can you improve your flexibility as you get older?
Stretching is one of the best ways to boost flexibility, and there are plenty of ways to incorporate it into your day, but there are also other things you can do to keep a spring in your step – try these 8 easy ways to give your flexibility levels a boost.
#1. Stretch after you workout
Rather than starting your workout with a stretching routine, instead try warming up slowly with a jog or jumping jacks. After your run or rock climbing session, you can carry out a full stretching routine, incorporating static and dynamic stretches.
#2. Work on a full range of motion
Using a partial range of motion during a workout can build strength, but in order to enhance your flexibility, you'll need to work on a full range of motion. For example, carrying out full-depth squats can help to make your hips more flexible.
#3. Get a massage
Sounds like a nice, relaxing way to boost flexibility? Research shows massage can aid flexibility and movement by breaking down knots in your tissues and muscles. Try a foam roller massage pre or post-workout. Carried out after a session at the gym, it can help flush waste products from the body. Seeing a massage therapist several times a month in between training sessions can enhance your flexibility.
#4. Chill out
#5. Maintain hydration
If you're dehydrated, your muscles won't respond to flexibility training. This is because our muscles are largely composed of water. So concentrated on consuming more water both during and after your lunchtime workout or boxing training session, and you should notice your flexibility training gives you noticeable results.
#6. Try yoga
Yoga can really help to increase your flexibility – you'll be touching your toes in no time. Yoga focuses on breathing deeply, which can help to relieve tension in balled-up muscles, whilst exercises such as low lunges help to stretch and lengthen your muscles.
#7. Practise pilates
Pilates helps you to achieve a long, lean body by increasing core strength and flexibility. In Pilates, the movement are very slow, precise and controlled, making it a great low-impact workout. Regular practice can reduce aches and pains and lower the risk of injury to joints and muscles.
#8. Try dynamic stretching
Dynamic stretching uses momentum, unlike static or relaxed stretching. It's important to still maintain control when carrying out dynamic stretches. These types of stretches are often used by dancers or martial arts practitioners – for example, a kick can stretch the hamstring and increase flexibility. Try standing and swinging one leg slowly forwards and backwards – this stretches both the hamstrings and the quads; just don't lose your balance!