Improving flexibility does not happen overnight. It will take time, commitment, and plenty of practice. Whilst stretching and exercise will help, you must also ensure your diet is not limiting your flexibility. Below we look at 5 steps to improve flexibility, no matter where you are on your journey.
Eat Enough Protein
Whilst diet is not necessarily linked to improved flexibility, it is important to eat enough protein if you are going to be incorporating stretching and exercise into your lifestyle. Protein can aid with the recovery of sore muscles, strengthens muscle fibers, and refuels those muscles, ready for another day of stretching and exercise. If you want to get the most from your flexibility routine and reduce soreness and recovery time, protein will help you do so.
Choose the Right Exercise
If you are looking to improve flexibility, there are some common exercises to do so. Pilates, tai chi, and yoga are a good place to start, alongside daily stretching to improve the range of movement over time. Yoga can improve strength and flexibility, as well as bring some calm into your life (perfect for de-stressing – see below). When starting an exercise such as yoga, it is important to start at a beginner’s level and go at your own pace.
Whilst you may find yoga intimidating, the goal is not necessarily to stretch yourself into impossible shapes like the yogis you see on Instagram. Yoga can be tailored to each individual person and you can find yoga specifically for flexibility. Tai chi can also stretch the body and loosen those muscles. Attending classes will be most beneficial as the teachers there can guide you with the correct postures to ensure you do not do any damage whilst practicing.
Whilst exercises such as yoga can certainly help with overall flexibility, it is also good practice to stretch. This can be done before and after any exercises you undertake, such as tennis, running or cycling, or simply each morning and evening. Stretching is great for targeting specific muscles and parts of the body you may be having more trouble with.
You should also hold stretches for around 30 seconds to get the most from each stretch. This app can help guide you with any stretches that you need help with, whether this is for your quads, back, or shoulders. Stretching daily will improve your flexibility and make exercises such as yoga easier.
You may be doing all you can to improve your flexibility but while you are stressed, you will not get the most out of your routines. Stress makes stretching uncomfortable and tense, making it harder for you to lengthen those muscles and improve flexibility. It can also feel uncomfortable when you first start stretching, as you may be using muscles that you do not exert often.
One way to overcome this is with a warm shower or bath, as you will get more from your stretches when your muscles are relaxed. Massage is another great way to relax and improve flexibility. You must also ensure that you are breathing effectively and not holding your breath whilst doing difficult stretches.
Flexibility is not a quick fix. You may not see any changes straight away and therefore practice is key. Start your own routine that works around your lifestyle and set achievable goals. There are plenty of helpful websites and videos online that can help you improve your flexibility, and it can help to watch other people’s journeys. Try incorporating stretches and exercise into your life that will improve your flexibility over time.
With the right exercises, stretching, enough protein to help recover between workouts, and plenty of practice, you will begin to see an improvement in your flexibility which can impact your life in a positive manner. Do not forget to take time to destress and calm those muscles, whether this is with a warm bath or massage.