You can add goats, dogs, horses, paddle boards, karaoke and beer and yoga still won’t fly with some people. Whether you hate yoga or not, yoga and flexibility go hand in hand. So if you aren’t going to sign up for a yoga classes anytime soon, here are some simple ways to improve your flexibility without any yoga.
Before you workout, you should warm up with dynamic stretches. Dynamic stretches are designed not only to improve your range of motion, but also to activate muscles that you will use during your workout. For example, if you plan to do lunges with heavy weights and an ab series, a lunge with a twist in the beginning of your workout is a great way to get those muscles ready.
You should always end your workouts with long, slow static stretches that you should hold for 15-30 seconds. Touching your toes for 15-30 seconds is an example of a static stretch. Static stretching will improve flexibility and joint range of motion and help to alleviate muscle soreness.
When stretching, make sure that you are keeping things even. If you stretch one side, make sure to stretch the other. This goes for your everyday life as well. If you always carry your heavy work bag on one side, be sure to switch it up or try using a backpack instead. Balance, posture and flexibility are all connected and you’d be surprised how much one can effect the others.
You aren’t going to see any results, if you only stretch once a week. Try to make it a part of your day. Wake up a little early everyday and do a little stretch before making your coffee. Next time you Netflix and chill, try Netflix, chill and pigeon pose instead. If you stretch several times a week, you are bound to see results over time.
Set goals for yourself and be specific. If it feels more like a game than a chore, you are bound to keep it up! If you want to be able to touch your toes without any bend in your knees in the next three months, then you have something specific to work up to!
Challenge yourself and go all the way down on that next squat. Go lower than usual next time you do lunges. While partial ranges of motion can help build strength, try to perform each exercise through a full range of motion in order to achieve your flexibility goals.
Foam rolling before a workout will loosen you up and help prepare the body for movement. Foam rolling after a workout will help muscles recover from exercise and prevent soreness. When foam rolling, focus on big muscles like the calves, quads, IT bands, upper back, and lats.
Stress can cause your body to tighten up and can create tension in your entire body. Find time throughout your week to chill out. Go for a walk, lay in the park or meditate. If your mind is relaxed, your body will be too! It’s all about mind/body, baby!
It is important to stay hydrated. If you want your muscles to respond to flexibility training, they have to be proper hydrated. Focus on your water intake throughout the day, especially during and after strenuous exercise in order to keep your muscles working optimally. If you aren’t properly hydrated, your performance will decline and so will your flexibility.
Ballistic stretching involves forcibly moving your body into a greater stretch usually by performing quick, powerful movements. An example would be bobbing up and down in an attempt to touch your toes. This kind of stretching can be beneficial to athletes, but not recommended for the average person. You can increase your risk of injury and can cause muscles to tighten up if you don’t know what you are doing so it is better to just stay away from it.
So, it’s time to work on that flexibility. Don’t forget to check in with yourself and be realistic. Set goals but don’t overdo it. You want to work on your flexibility and push yourself, but you want to be safe.