The focus on flexibility often gets overshadowed by the desire for increased strength or improved endurance when it comes to our fitness routines. However, flexibility is a key part of a comprehensive workout regimen, which makes it important for us to have a better range of motion.
Flexibility helps decrease the chance of injuries, while increasing muscle strength and balance. It can also aid in improved posture, lengthened muscles for a leaner look, and in some cases, it can enhance athletic performances.
Flexibility is not only important for our workout routines. Elasticity declines as we age, so the incorporation of these types of exercises and movements are valuable for our day-to-day activities as well.
According to JustStand.org, studies have shown we sit an average of 7.7 hours a day! Sitting for such long periods of time can easily cause our muscles to tighten up and eventually cause long-term pain and discomfort. Even if we don’t always have time for the gym, there are ways to become more flexible.
Say “Yes” to Yoga or Pilates
Want a way to improve flexibility while also focusing on your mind-body connection? Incorporate yoga or Pilates into your weekly routine for a well-rounded workout that focuses on all parts of the body. Mindful breathing and holding poses for longer periods of time contribute to a stronger sense of balance and flexibility. Over time, you will see the difference in how you look and feel the difference in how you move.
Don’t Skip Stretching
Do you stretch as often as you should? Our bodies can benefit when we start and end our workouts with stretching, but too often it’s skipped. Not only does stretching help keep our bodies limber, it just feels great, too.
There are both dynamic and static stretches you can do pre- or post-workout, but also several you can perform while sitting at a desk or on the couch. The upper body often becomes strained and stiff by constant hunching or slouched posture throughout the day. One easy, go-to stretch is to lace your hands behind your head and pull back gently to release your back and shoulder muscles.
Dynamic stretching, such as windmill exercises, walking lunges, or jumping jacks, are basic movements meant to keep our muscles engaged and warm up our bodies for a workout. Another way to stay active is to take a 10-minute break every few hours to walk around the block and loosen up the limbs. Finally, simply standing rather than sitting immediately improves posture and helps burn extra calories.
These are three of the many ways to achieve greater flexibility and prevent muscles and joints from becoming too stiff from lack of activity. You may notice there will be days your flexibility will be better than others, which is perfectly normal. Don’t overdo it and risk the possibility of an injury.
Find what works best for you. Listen to your body and know your limits as you strive to meet your fitness goals and keep your body in healthy shape.