Maybe you want to work your way into full lotus or simply be able to touch your toes with straight legs. Flexibility is extremely underrated and ignored, that is, UNTIL we get injured, find ourselves suddenly unable to physically move the same as before or when we are scrolling Instagram and see an aspirational bendy person do an impressive backbend.
Whatever your flexibility goals are, we are all happier and healthier when our bodies move freely. Try on these tips and tricks to reduce injury, have better posture, more energy, live longer and feel a lot more…well…flexible!
1. Wake up and start moving…gently
One of the best things you can do for your body and your energy levels is to gently move shortly after waking as this helps release stuck fascia. Wait…what´s fascia? Fascia is a sensitive connective tissue around all your internal body parts (organs, bones, blood vessels, muscles) holding them together like glue. Due to inactivity in some areas or too much repetitive movement, fascia gets stuck causing stiffness, pain and knots in muscles as well as sleeplessness. So go ahead, do that comical over exaggerated stretching yawn!
2. But when and for how long?
To keep it simple, perform more dynamic and unforced range of motion stretches before workouts and leave your longer held static stretches for post workout. Starting with a dynamic movement such as side lunges with alternating arm reaches (loved by our barre-liners), are an excellent way to release fascia and release muscles for deeper work. Whereas, ending a workout with a long hamstring and hip flexor release, for around 30 seconds each, will do wonders for releasing the lower back and keeping it pain free.
3. Frequency is key for lasting results
Stretching isn´t just for those who exercise. Flexibility should be a brief but highly beneficial part of your daily movements. Just like your morning yawn as you get out of bed, some shoulder rolls, neck stretches and chest openers should be part of each hour you sit at your computer. Alternatively, if you are someone who stands most of the day, make sure to do a few forward folds to release the pressure on the lower back and hamstrings. A good rule of thumb: Every time you go to use the loo or get something to eat or drink, do a mini stretch or range of motion exercise. Just 15 seconds to a minute of movement or stretch will give your body and brain a boost.
4. Counter your norm
Whether you exercise regularly or not, the muscles you use throughout the day do get stronger and more dominant. Hello there mighty text fingers! Everyone who uses a mobile phone (so EVERYONE!) could use more stretches for the chest, neck, jaw, wrists and hands. So, whatever you do throughout your day make sure to lengthen the muscles you use the most.
Read the next tip to find out what to do with the muscles you don’t use as much.
5. Strengthen and stabilise the underused
The best way to maintain your flexibility is to strengthen the muscles you don’t use as routinely. Then, once you have balanced out your anatomy by lengthening the overused and strengthening the underused, it´s time to do stabilisation and balance exercises in order to maintain high energy levels as well as prevent pain and injury.
Not sure what stabilisation exercises are? Just head to https://www.silverliningsathome.com/ and do any and all of our workouts
Make sure to breathe deeply. Learning the simple skill of diaphragmatic breathing or the SL favourite of Box Breath can do wonders for efficient release in the nerves of your muscles and fascia. The payoff of improving the quality of your breath is far greater than any stretch or exercise on their own.
Do you need an excuse to go to the spa? Well, a massage is an excellent way to allow muscle groups to release for more length and suppleness. If time or cost is a barrier to a professional massage, foam rolling or self or partner massage are just as effective. Get kneading!
8. Supple Supplements
Try taking supplements to improve your flexibility.