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The Complete Guide to Flexibility Training: 10 Best Exercises for Increasing your Range of Motion

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Flexibility is important for several reasons. For one, it can help to prevent injury. Additionally, it can be helpful in the workplace when you need to quickly and easily move from one place to another or when you need to do different tasks with your body. While flexibility is important, being flexible also has its share of consequences. For example, if you are not flexible enough, then you might not be able to do certain physical activities that require flexibility or you might find that your muscles are constantly tight and sore.

The Importance of Flexibility

Flexibility is important for a variety of reasons. It can help with injury prevention, joint health, and even athletic performance.

It is important to note that there are many different types of flexibility exercises. Stretching is the most common type of flexibility exercise but there are also other types like proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) and active isolated stretching.

Some people believe that it’s best to stretch before a workout while others think it’s best to stretch after a workout. There are benefits to both approaches so it depends on your personal preference.

Top 10 Best Stretches You Can Do in Your Daily Routine to Increase Your Flexibility

Below are some stretches you can start to become flexible with.

1. Plantar Flexibility Stretch

Plantar flexion is the medical term for the motion of bending the foot down towards the ground. It is a normal motion that most people do when they walk. To stretch the plantar flexors, stand up and place your hands on your hips. Lift one foot off the ground and bend it back until you feel a stretch in the plantar flexor muscle at the inside of your ankle. Hold this position for 10 seconds, then switch to the other leg.

Watch the video below for a similar stretch.

2. Quadriceps Stretch

The quadriceps stretch is an exercise that can be done to stretch the quadriceps. It is performed by lying on the floor, then bending one leg and crossing it over the other knee, grabbing behind your knee, and pulling it towards your chest.

This stretch may also be performed by standing with your feet about a foot apart. Then, both knees can be bent, and you should grab the front of one knee and pull it towards your chest as you stand up.

3. Hamstring Stretch

The hamstring muscles are located on the back of your thighs and they can become tight after sitting for long periods, during physical activity, or due to injury. Tight hamstrings may cause pain in the back of your leg or buttock region, as well as difficulty, walking up and down the stairs.

Similar stretch from Bupa Health

To do the hamstring stretch, first, stand on one leg and place the other foot behind your body. Keep your hands on the hips of your standing leg. Next, bend over to touch the floor with both hands, keeping your balance. Hold for 15 seconds then release and repeat on the opposite side.

4. Lumbar Spine Stretch

The lumbar spine stretch helps to alleviate low back pain by stretching the muscles in the lower back. The best way to do this stretch is to lie on the ground with the arms outstretched and pulled away from the body. Next, press into one hip and then rotate towards that side until a stretch is felt. Hold for 30 seconds, then roll onto your side and switch hips, and repeat as needed.

Cobra stretch for the lumbar spine.
Cobra stretch works on the lumbar spine. Image credit: Josephine.com

5. Chest Stretch

The chest stretch is a quick, simple exercise that you can do to relieve muscle tension in the chest. The muscle that is most commonly tight in the chest area is the pectoralis major. To stretch the chest muscles, lie on your back with the arms at the sides, and hands just below the shoulders. Then cross one leg over the other and hold onto your crossed knee. Keep your bent knee close to your chest, and raise it into a pectoral stretch. Hold for 20 seconds then lower back down to rest for 20 seconds before repeating with the opposite leg.

6. Wrist and Forearm Stretch

A wrist and forearm stretch is done by extending the arm out in front of you and then bending the wrist backwards. Gently push with your fingers against your biceps tendon to feel a stretch through the wrist. Hold for at least 30 seconds. Repeat for one minute on each arm.

Stretching the wrist. Credit: GoodRx

7. Neck and Shoulder Release

Neck and shoulder release is a stretch that is done to lengthen the neck and shoulder muscles. This can be done by either reaching your right arm over your head, then placing your left hand on the right arm and gently pulling it towards the body. This can also be done by bending over to touch the floor with both hands while letting the back of the head point upwards.

Neck and shoulder release stretch

8. Hip Flexor Stretch

The key to the hip flexor stretch is to take your time and be patient. The stretch can be done as either a static or dynamic stretch. Static stretches should be held for at least 30 seconds on each leg, while dynamic stretches can last up to 10 seconds. To do the hip flexor stretch, sit on the ground and cross one leg over the other. Make sure your knee is at a 90-degree angle, and then lean forward to rest your weight on one hand. Take one arm and reach it back so that you can grab your foot or heel with your hand while you pull back with the other hand, using even pressure.

Hip flexor stretch

9. Gluteal Muscle Stretches

The gluteal muscle stretch is done by laying on your back, bending the knee of one leg, and bringing it towards the opposite shoulder. This stretches the iliopsoas muscle which includes the psoas muscle, quadratus lumborum, iliacus, and rectus femoris.

10. Ankle Dorsiflexion

It’s important to perform exercises that will strengthen the muscles of the foot and ankle. This will help provide stability and balance when standing, walking, running, jumping, or changing directions. This type of exercise may be done by placing a resistance band around the ball of the foot and then pulling it up towards your calf with both hands.

Ankle Dorsiflexion with resistance band

How Many Stretching is enough?

The most common mistake people make when it comes to flexibility exercises is that they stretch for too long and not enough.

The amount of time you should spend stretching will depend on the type of exercise you are doing. For example, if you are doing a dynamic stretch, then it is usually recommended to hold the stretch for 10 seconds and repeat it 3 times. If you are doing a static stretch, then it is usually recommended to hold the stretch for 30 seconds or more.

In general, it’s recommended that people spit end 10-15 minutes of stretching at least two times per day.

Conclusion

The above stretches will help you stay flexible and agile. Flexibility, in particular, is important for maintaining a healthy and pain-free life.

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