When your body is flexible, you likely experience fewer injuries, have improved posture, have a greater amount of strength, and are able to physically perform better than those who are not. With flexibility being such a good thing, what are some different flexibility exercises?
Flexibility exercises include shoulder rolls, standing hamstring stretches, extended angle side bends, the downward dog, lower back mobilizers, a deep lunge and twist, chest mobilizers, the piriformis stretch, neck and shoulder releases, figure four stretches, and the cat stretch.
For well-rounded overall health, of course, there should be a focus on your diet, the amount of sleep you get, and the building of your strength and endurance. All of these contribute to a healthy body, but also a healthy heart and mind. However, within this mix should be included the importance of flexibility. Continue reading to learn why flexibility is so important and all of the different flexibility exercises you can implement into your everyday life.
Why is Flexibility Important?
Flexibility is not simply something that is exclusively reserved for dancers and performers. It is a component that can very positively affect the average person in ways that can drastically change how they feel throughout their day. Before getting into different flexibility exercises, let’s first take a look at why flexibility is so important and how it can benefit you.
Flexibility Means Fewer Injuries
If you think of a baby, it takes quite a bit of force for them to ever actually incur a serious injury. Although they may look fragile, babies and small children are extremely flexible, which helps to protect them from injury. Adults, in the same way, can train their bodies to be more flexible, which will help them to withstand more physical stress, but will also help to even out any muscle imbalances. Thus, this leads to fewer injuries.
Flexibility Improves Your Overall Strength and Performance
By increasing your flexibility and reducing any muscle imbalances, muscles that were previously disengaged are now being used. Through this, your overall strength is improved as you are able to use muscles in your body more seamlessly than before. Therefore, the overall strength of your body is improved through the lengthening and stretching of those muscles.
This also allows for better physical performance as your muscles work more efficiently.
Flexibility Improves Posture and Balance
By working towards a state of better flexibility, your body will begin to shift and your overall alignment will begin to improve. Through this correction, your posture will begin to improve and it will also be more comfortable to hold a position of good posture without getting fatigued. Flexibility also allows your body to move differently than before which can give way to better balance in situations like standing, or moving quickly from one position to the next.
There are so many important benefits that come from the implementation of flexibility exercises, but many times, this type of workout is overlooked due to people simply not knowing the good behind it, but also not knowing where to start. Take a look at the list below to find a wide variety of flexibility exercises that can aid anyone on their journey to helping their body move just a bit easier.
This may seem like a very basic exercise, but it can do great things when it comes to your flexibility. Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your side. Then, roll your shoulder up, back, and down with your thumbs pointing forward as you start and then point your palms forward with elbows slightly bent as you finish.
You will then reverse the movement so that your shoulders roll forward, down, back, and up. Repeat this motion for sequential reps.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and keep your knees slightly bent. With your arms to your sides, exhale as you bend forward at the hips and lower your head down to the floor keeping your head, neck and shoulders relaxed. Depending on your level of flexibility, either wrap your arms around your legs or grab and hold the back of your legs between 45 seconds and two minutes. Bend your knees and then slowly roll back up to your standing position.
Extended Angle Side Bend
With your feet wide apart, legs straight, and your right foot pointing to the side, stretch your arms wide open at your chest level with your palms facing forward. Slowly bend your right knee and lower yourself down to the right side. While doing this, tilt your whole body to the right and keep your arms outstretched. Lower down as far as you can reaching your right hand to the floor while your left extends toward the ceiling.
Hold this position for 15-30 seconds as you feel your right hamstring, left inner thigh, and left waist stretch. You will then return slowly back to the starting position and repeat the same steps for the left side of your body.
For the downward dog, start standing with your feet hip-width apart. While exhaling, bend your body at the hips and lower your head toward the floor. Place your hands firmly on the ground and step back with your feet while you keep your back and spine neutral. Also, be sure to keep your head and neck in line with your shoulders and arms. Your body will be in a dramatic bridged position once you have reached the proper point.
Lower Back Mobilizer
Lie on your back with your legs almost straight and your arms stretched out in a cross position. Exhale and raise your knees towards your chest then inhale to expand your chest. Exhale and, while keeping both knees together, drop them to your right while keeping your shoulder glued to the floor as you turn your head left. Inhale and bring your knees back to your chest. Exhale and repeat the same steps to the left.
Deep Lunge and Twist
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and take a large step forward with your right foot. Bend your right knee and drop down into a lunge position as your keep your left leg as straight as possible behind you. Keep your toes on the ground so that you feel this stretch at the front of your left thigh. Then, place your right hand on the floor and twist your upper body to the right as you extend your right arm to the ceiling.
Hold this position for 30 seconds to two minutes while you control your breathing and work to take slow and steady. Once the rep is over, repeat these same steps for the left side of your body.
Stand up straight and open your arms wide on either side of your body as you tilt your head back and push your chest forward. Take a deep breath in then let it out as you bring your chin to your chest. Clasp your upper arm with the opposite hand as if you were hugging yourself and hunch your back forward. This will help to relieve pressure in your chest, but also in your back.
For this stretch, you will begin by sitting on the floor with both legs extended in front of you. Cross your left leg over your right and be sure that your left foot is flat on the floor. You will then place your left hand on the floor behind your body while your right hand is placed on your left quad. Then, press your left leg to the right as you twist your torso to the left.
Neck and Shoulder Release
Start this stretch by sitting up straight as you relax your shoulders. Then, engage your abdomen and back muscles to support your core. Drop your right ear to your shoulder as the left side of your neck is stretched. Push the fingers of your left hand towards the floor and extend the stretch to the top of your shoulder and hold this position for 30 seconds. After the 30 seconds have passed, get back into the starting position and repeat on the opposite side.
Figure Four Stretch
To start this position, lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent. You will then cross your left foot over your right quad and then lift your right leg off of the floor. To do this, grab the back of your right quad and gently pull both legs towards your chest to the point where you feel a stretch, but it is not uncomfortable. Hold this position for 30 seconds to two minutes and then switch sides to repeat.
The Cat Stretch
If you want to get in touch with your inner feline, the cat stretch is for you. To complete the cat stretch, get down on all fours and position your wrists slightly in front of your shoulders as your knees are placed right beneath your hips. Slowly inhale as you draw your chest upward and allow your spine to sink down. Exhale and then arch your back upwards as you relax your neck and allow your head to go down between your arms.
Slowly bring your head back up into the starting position and then repeat until you begin to feel a release of pressure in your upper back.
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