It is a fact that the younger you are, the more flexible you are. It is a myth, however, that you have to lose your flexibility as you get older. In fact, it’s safe to say that knowing how to become more flexible is even more important the older you are. You can start stretching and improving your flexibility at any time in life! You lose it because you don’t use it.
So let’s look at how to become more flexible and why it’s such a good goal.
The Benefits of Being Flexible
If you’re someone who has a hard time reaching your toes, then you are going to want to know how to become more flexible. Have you ever noticed how many elderly people shuffle? They take such tiny steps that you wonder if they are trying to keep their balance or are perhaps experiencing muscle loss or range of motion in their legs.
The truth is that most people end up shuffling due to a loss of flexibility.
When your hip flexors (the muscles that connect your torso to your legs in front) get short and tight, they limit the range of motion your legs can take.
Instead of a nice long stride, tight hip flexors cause you to shuffle. This is just one of many reasons it is so important to stay flexible as you age.
Here are some benefits of flexibility:
- Improves your performance in physical activities
- Improves performance in daily activities
- Decreases your risk of injury
- Decreases nagging pain in your upper back
- Helps relieve and prevent lower back pain.`
- Improves your workouts due to better muscular performance
- Stretching improves posture
- It helps you keep a more youthful appearance (think shuffling or hunching over!)
With all these amazing results, why don’t we all take the time to stretch our muscles?
10 Best Stretching Exercises to Become More Flexible
So you get off the treadmill and head over to a mat. Now what? All many of us remember about stretching is that brutal gym class in 8th grade when we sat on the floor, straddled our legs, and felt too embarrassed to do anything else.
Don’t make up your own stretches. Not only will you have a hard time finding it effective, but it can actually be dangerous to reach and twist in ways that aren’t meant to be done.
Try each of the below stretches, holding for about 30-60 seconds each (and on each side if unilateral).
Make sure to breathe slowly and relax as much as possible. Do not stretch to the point of pain.
Tips For How To Become More Flexible
If you want to know how to become more flexible, you have to start with stretching.
Stretching is probably a little like flossing. Deep down, you know it’s good for you, but in the moment, it’s easy to skip.
In the same way, you fully understand that flexibility training is important, and yet you don’t do it.
How to become more flexible when you are short on time
Regaining flexibility takes extra time – time you don’t think you have. In a perfect world, you would stretch before and after every workout, but busy lifestyles make us pick and choose what we do with our time.
The short hours in a day don’t accommodate everything you want or know you need to do. And when it comes to committing time to a workout, flexibility is usually put at the bottom of the list.
For some reason, we don’t think stretching gives us as many benefits as the other things we do. Cardio burns fat and calories. Strength training builds muscle and strength and makes us look better.
On the other hand, the benefits of stretching are not quite as immediate. Over time, however, a lack of stretching begins to catch up with you quickly.
Aches and pains become normal, and injuries pile up quickly.
Solution #1: Swap It Out For Another Workout
If you love to work out, then the solution for you is to replace part or all of a couple of workouts a week with yoga.
Yoga comes in many styles and forms, but there is definitely a yoga for those who like to move. Choose something in a vinyasa style, and you’ll get your fix of cardio, strength, and flexibility all in one place!
Solution #2: Just Take 10 Minutes
Not ready to give up your cardio? Then shorten it a few minutes and try our 10 Minute Vinyasa Flow Sequence.
You can accomplish all you need for better flexibility in 10 minutes or less! A little bit of stretching every day truly works to regain flexibility.
How to become more flexible when it hurts to stretch
So you haven’t stretched in a while, and the first thing you do is get down on the floor and stretch and stretch hard! Go big or go home, right? Wrong!
A big turnoff to stretching is pain. Going too deep or too far into a stretch can cause pain and make you not want to revisit that stretch again.
This over-stretching is not only painful, but it’s not effective either.
What happens when you overstretch is something called the “stretch reflex”. You go too deep, it hurts, and the muscles surrounding the area you are working on tightening up to mask the pain you feel in the stretch.
Solution: Be More Gentle
When you begin stretching, go easy on yourself. The expression “less is more” is true here.
Start with just a tiny, gentle range of motion. Flexibility is a slow process, you can’t rush it.
For example, let’s say you want to be able to do a seated toe touch. Instead of trying to grab your toes right off the bat, set your hands on your knees and relax.
Take a few deep breaths and on the next exhale, reach below your knees. Relax and take a few more breaths. On the next exhale, reach once more but closer to mid-shin.
This technique brings you in gently without the pain you get from over-stretching.
The benefits are remarkable. And remember: it shouldn’t hurt to stretch.
There is absolutely no reason you can’t become more flexible at any age. Commit to something you know will be in your best interest in the long run.