Last week’s post talked you through what we’re meaning by flexibility and why it’s important. Keep reading or watch the video below to find out how you can start to improve your flexibility.
Before we explain how to improve your flexibility we’ve got a few words of warning.
- Those of you who don’t think they’re flexible. Be very careful when you first start out because you want to work within your body’s current range of movement. You can slowly grade your exercises to improve your range of movement. If you start from being inflexible and then really push it then it could cause you all sorts of different problems.
- Those of you who have increased flexibility, or are hypermobile. Hypermobility is where the joints have an extra range of movement. You obviously you don’t want to keep pushing into that extra range because you’ve already got it. If in any doubt, get it checked out by a healthcare professional so you can get a targeted exercise and flexibility plan.
How to Improve Flexibility
There are different ways that you can use to try and improve your flexibility. It just depends on your personal daily activities as to which one fits best into your schedule.
Heat and then Stretch
Use heat to relax the muscles and then gently stretch. You’ll find you may be able to stretch into the movement more so than without heat. Heat can come in different forms. Try them all out and see what works best for you:
- Hot pack
- Gentle exercise/movement
Massage can help target the different areas of the body, particularly if you go for a Sports or Remedial one. Using massage at the same time as you’re working on your flexibility exercises, can give you a helping hand for improving.
Dynamic or Static Stretches
Stretches can be split into dynamic stretches or static stretches:
- Dynamic stretches – are where you move through the range of movement.
- Static stretches – are the more traditional style of stretches where you hold a certain position for around 20 seconds.
The research is suggesting that dynamic stretches are possibly that little bit more effective than static. In our opinion, it’s a personal choice as to which one suits you the best. We’d certainly be suggesting dynamic stretches before you do any activities. After an activity, you can either do dynamic or static stretches.
This is where you repeat an activity in small amounts during the day.
- you can do a calf stretch when you’re brushing your teeth
- you can do any arm stretches or leg stretches if you’re waiting for the kettle to boil, or in the kitchen
- you can do a finger, arm and calf stretch while waiting for the bus (if you’re happy to do this outside that is!)
Yoga or Pilates
If you want something a little bit more formal then Yoga and Pilates may be for you. They both target different areas of the body to improve flexibility. Yoga focuses more on static stretches, whereas Pilates works on both static and dynamic stretches.
Be Objective – choose something relevant to your activity
Be objective in what you’re doing when you’re trying to improve your flexibility. Choose an exercise that will target an area that you want to improve, or will help you in an activity that you’re doing.
- Runners – will want to improve the flexibility of their legs, their hips, knees, ankles
- Golfers – may also want to look at improving the flexibility of the upper back and shoulders.
Measure – Work on your Flexibility – Re-measure, to check progress
Take a measurement before you start. What that measurement is will depend on what you’re wanting to improve. For example, improving the back of your leg and back flexibility, you can check how close you are to touching your toes.
Aim for six weeks of working on the specific exercise.
Re-measure after those six weeks. How close are you now to touching your toes?
In this way, you can see if you are improving and making a difference.
Our video next week will talk you through a specific hip flexibility exercise that is good for runners. However, it can also be applied to anyone who sits down for a large portion of the day.
Please share this blog and video with anyone you know who would benefit from improving their flexibility.
We’d love to hear from you. Please let us know if you have any questions.
As with all information given for exercises and exercise programs, when using our exercise videos or information, please use your common sense and don’t do anything that will hurt you. By performing any fitness exercises, you are performing them at your own risk. PhysioFit Health will not be responsible or liable for any injury or harm you sustain as a result of information shared on our website or YouTube channel. This includes emails, videos and text. Thanks for your understanding.