You eat the right foods, drink the right drinks, and exercise regularly. In other words, you’re strong and healthy. There is only one hole in your overall good health. You’re as flexible as a piece of plywood. But there’s good news! You don’t have to stay inflexible your entire life. With the right steps, you can improve your flexibility, which will make life that much better.
Ready to get started building a more flexible you? Here’s how.
For those who want to take their routines to the stretchy limit, it’s time to use a foam roller.
With a foam roller, you work to gently stretch your muscles before working them out, and better yet, you stretch them out safely. Essentially a massage for your muscles, foam rolling helps your muscles relax and stretch. Once you knock out a little foam rolling, the time is right for a round of body-weight exercises or light activity before going full force.
Go All the Way
As you exercise, you can help your flexibility by working throughout your entire range of motion. Initially, you may have a harder time squatting your full range of motion, but sticking with it will allow your muscles to work all the way and will lead to their being more flexible. Subsequently, this is one of the ways that Kung-Fu helps to increase your flexibility. By working through the stances on a consistent basis, you become more able to hit the full range of motion for that stance.
To get to where you can squat or perform other exercises, like Kung-Fu, as deep as your body allows keep going through as full of a range of motion as your able. Your body will grow more accustomed to going through a fuller range of motion, and your flexibility will increase over time.
Your routine winds down, and your muscles feel tight and want to stay that way. Folks who are new to working out often enjoy the feeling. It lets them know their body has worked hard, and so they allow the tightness to remain as they leave the gym and return to their daily routines.
However, this is when your stretches become most important. By taking 10 minutes to stretch slowly, you can take a huge step toward your overall flexibility. A good post-workout stretch will focus on the areas worked during your routine, but will provide a little stretching for the entire body. You can also finish your stretching with more foam rolling if you have time, as this will help further your flexibility goals.
Take It Slow
When stretching for increased flexibility, you may be tempted to push it as far as you can. But don’t give in. Instead, you should relax and take the slow and easy-going path to flexibility. Going too far, too fast, will actually have the opposite result than you want, as your body will have to repair itself from small injuries that occur from stretching and won’t want to stretch further in the future. Instead, take your time and allow your body to ease into stretches. (Don’t bounce. Stretch slowly.)
Feel an uncomfortable burning sensation that actually hurts? That is not your body’s way of thanking you. Back off and stretch to the point of slight tension. Accept that you cannot increase your flexibility overnight, and you will make better headway by going slowly than by beating your muscles into flexible submission.
Learn a Stretching Routine
As a full-time martial arts instructor, I am often asked about stretching. Usually, people are asking me because they have something that hurts, and they want to know how to stretch an aching muscle. Other times, students want to know how to kick higher, and still other times my students ask about how they can become more flexible so that they can do better at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or Muay Thai. To learn more about my stretching routine and how I obtained the splits, you can go to: https://www.thenewdojo.com/product/power-stretching/