Tips to Help You Gain Flexibility and Stretch Deeper
By Genevieve Cunningham
Most people want to be flexible. We may not consciously think about our flexibility, but we notice when we can't bend and reach something we've dropped, or when we're sore after a workout. Suddenly, flexibility seems really important. Unfortunately, the way in which we improve flexibility -- regular stretching -- is the most commonly skipped part of a workout. If you're ready to improve your flexibility and range of motion, take a look at these tips for deepening your stretch and feeling your best starting today.
Lead With the Chest
Most of the time, we stretch our bodies leading with the head. If we're stretching the legs, we try to touch our head to our knees. Or we try to touch our head to the floor. Either way, we think of a lower head as the goal. But this actually curves the spine and detracts from the effectiveness of the stretch. Instead, think of leading with the chest. Keep your back as straight as you can, push your chest toward your leg or the ground, and then stop when you meet resistance. You won't be able to go down as far with this method, but you'll absolutely get a more effective stretch.
Warm Up Your Muscles Slowly
Warm muscles stretch more deeply than cold muscles. If you're getting ready to stretch, get up and move a little bit. Walk, do some high knees, swing your arms in circles. Just get your blood moving. As our muscles begin to warm, start stretching. Warming your muscles as you stretch gives you double effectiveness, and you'll be ready for your workout by the end.
Stretch Longer Than You Think
You should definitely be taking your time when you stretch. This is not something we should be rushing through, though many of us are guilty of doing just that. Instead, stretch just a little longer than you think you should. Those few extra seconds might be just what you need to lengthen the muscle, deepen the stretch, and get your muscles ready for your routine.
Stretching is one of the most important parts of our workout, and yet so many completely skip it. Make sure that you're stretching before your workout to warm up, and then again after your workout to cool down. And then use these tips to take your stretch a little further. With consistency and patience, you can improve your flexibility -- and thus your whole workout! -- through stretches that make your body feel loose, limber, and stronger than ever.
To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Folsom, Calif.