Flexibility: It’s an attribute characteristic of acrobats, gymnasts, and dancers, one many people think is reserved for those who need to be limber for day-to-day activities and requirements of the job.
However, flexibility is sort of a prerequisite for a life well-lived, even if you’re just an average Joe or Jolene. Consider these few questions:
If you answered yes to one or more of those questions, you’d benefit from increasing your flexibility.
So ditch the idea that flexibility is only for the naturally bendy, and get to bending with these methods for becoming more flexible.
Static stretching is the type of activity that most people immediately picture when they think of flexibility training. This type of stretching involves holding a position for 10 to 60 seconds at a time, and then releasing to allow the muscle to return to its typical length.
In essence, static stretching temporarily puts your muscles in a lengthened position, and over time, repeatedly doing this will increase the muscle’s ability to stretch to that length without injury. Short term, static stretching can reduce muscle soreness and relieve muscle tension.
In contrast to static stretching, dynamic stretching involves moving through a targeted range of motion for reps. For example, instead of holding a lunge stretch to open up your hip flexors, you might do 10 alternating lunges with a three-second pause in the bottom of each lunge.
This type of stretching emphasizes joint movement more than muscle movement, which is critical for range of motion (the ability of a joint to move through certain positions) versus just flexibility (the ability of a muscle to lengthen without injury).
Dynamic stretching is often performed as part of a warmup for a workout, whereas static stretching is generally performed after workouts as part of the cool down. Both types of stretching can be performed in isolation for flexibility training, or you can put together a routine of static and dynamic stretching.
Your spine plays a huge role in your overall level of flexibility. The spine is responsible for the flexing, extending, rotating, and side-bending of your torso, so it affects almost every single movement you engage in. As such, increasing your ability to safely rotate your spine will result in better flexibility.
Seated spinal rotations in a chair or on the floor are a great way to get started. Other rotational movements for flexibility include windmills, Russian twists, and wood chops.
Finally, physically releasing tension from your muscles can temporarily improve your flexibility and, if done consistently, for the long term, too. Often, inflexibility or immobility stems from muscle knots, trigger points, and adhesions in fascia, the connective tissue that surrounds your muscles. Breaking up tightly compacted areas of tissue helps the muscles move through unrestricted ranges of motion.
You can mash your muscles in a few ways. Popular methods include foam rolling; trigger point therapy with a lacrosse ball or mobility stick; and percussive therapy. All of these methods have their benefits, but we’re partial to percussive therapy for the simple fact that it allows you to use technology to manipulate pressure levels, not just your own body.
With a percussive massage gun, you’re also able to treat more surface area in less time thanks to the rapid nature of the device. The good stuff doesn’t stop there, though: Read about the science behind percussive therapy and how far-reaching the benefits are.
This article is for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended for use as medical or health advice. For any and all health concerns or conditions, please talk to your doctor.
Written by Ekrin Athletics Staff
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