FREE SHIPPING ON ORDERS OVER $50

Strong & Limber | Stretch Yourself Flexible

Strong & Limber | Stretch Yourself Flexible

Ballerinas, gymnasts, Cirque Du Soleil performers and martial arts experts are some of the most graceful, beautiful athletes to look at.  What do they all have in common? They are extremely fit, strong and FLEXIBLE. While many workout devotees focus on improving their general level of fitness and strength, flexibility training seems to have been the ugly step-child of our gym culture- underrated and often an after-thought. 

In truth, the athletic performers that wow us the most with their performance and hot body had it figured out long ago. Flexibility is not only impressive, it is often what differentiates an average body from one that is super fab.

What is Flexibility Training?

Flexibility can be termed as the ability of your joints and body parts to execute their full range of motion. In spite of common belief, flexibility is NOT genetic. Yes, some bodies are more naturally supple than others but all bodies have the capacity to achieve a fuller range of motion with the right practice.  A focus on dynamic stretching  (“stretching while moving”) and isometric stretching (“engaging the muscle while stretching”) is a good place to start.  These kinds of stretching increases core temperature, muscle temperature, elongates the muscles, and stimulates the nervous system all while yielding faster results.         

Why Do We Stretch?

  1. It will save you from injury- muscles lose their natural suppleness are prone to tears, aches, and pains. Over time, loss of flexibility could lead to permanent changes in posture and normal muscle function.
  2. It will help “tricking” you’ll be able to take your yoga practice to the next level or really just impress the heck out of your friends and your kids at the park.
  3. It adds a whole new dimension to your movement. Flexibility can’t be forced.  It takes time and patience and teaches “Kinesthetic awareness” where your body is in space and time. 
  4. It’s easy, fun, and impressive, so why not?

How to Stretch?

You should never feel actual pain. For the muscle/tendon stretches, a burning feeling lets you know that you’re doing it right. For joint stretches like the side split, etc., the feeling is odd. It’s uncomfortable, but not really painful. If a stretch ever genuinely hurts, then STOP! “No pain, no gain” does not apply to flexibility training.  The 70% rule is best.  Move to 70% of your range of motion and stop.  It takes time and patience to develop so pick 5 stretches you will do regularly and focus on them for several months.  You will be amazed at the progress.

Stretches to Improve Flexibility with useful links to a few of our favorite stretches:

Shoulders

  1. Wall Stretch

  2. Shoulder Opener Side Roll

  3. Overhead Tricep Stretch

Spine

  1. Heart Opener with a block
  2. Crossed Leg Supine Twist
  3. Wide Legged Fold with a Twist

Torso 

  1. Side bend

Legs

  1. Legs up the wall (Viparita Karani)
  2. Pigeon Pose
  3. Splits Prep & Variations (Hanumanasana)

Knees

  1. Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)

  2. Kneeling Seat (Vajrasana)

  3. Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana)

When to Stretch?

The best part about stretching is that you can do it anywhere, any time. Try stretching while you watch TV. It keeps you from snacking and is great way to relax. Also, get your kids or spouse in on the action! Have them sit on your back, pull your arms, etc. to help deepen your stretch.

Remember, flexibility isn’t something that happens overnight, nor is it something that will be achieved by putting in the bare minimum. Two months of 10–20 minutes of solid stretching every day should make a noticeable difference.   While, age, genetics, and how much you stretch, all play a role in determining how long it will take to achieve a particular goal (hot body! watch out - here I come!), a reasonably fit person should take no more than 6 months or so to achieve a healthy to advanced level of flexibility.  



Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in Power of Doing

Finding Your 'Flow Zone'
Finding Your 'Flow Zone'

90% of the battle to produce excellence is showing up. Drawing on inner grit to commit to process even when doing so can be drudgery. 
Down to the Core | Longer Torso
Down to the Core | Longer Torso

Aspire to the long lines of a dancer?  This is how to do it. Train this area with strength but also with breath to create length.
Down to the Core | Smaller Waist
Down to the Core | Smaller Waist

Maintain a strong lower back and take care of the much maligned ‘muffin top’ above your tush.