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Ways to Improve Flexibility

By Paul Rothbart

There are several important elements to fitness. Strength is one of the more obvious. A strong, toned body is less prone to injury and can perform heavy work. Balance is also important, as falling down can cause damage to the body. The ability to recover quickly from illness and injury is an important part of fitness. Then, there's flexibility. You don't have to bend like a gymnast, but being flexible helps prevents muscle pulls and tears. It can also improve mobility, making it easier to accomplish physical tasks and stay active. People are born with varying levels of flexibility, but there are ways to become more flexible.

Choose a Good Exercise

Improving flexibility involves regular exercise that stretches the muscles and tendons. Yoga, Pilates, and tai chi are all excellent disciplines that can make you more flexible. You want to choose the one that best suits your fitness goals. Tai chi is very good for those whose flexibility is limited. It focuses on loosening muscles while stretching the entire body. Pilates builds strength while improving flexibility. Yoga also improves strength but also improves focus and has a meditative component. It also tends to increase range of motion. Depending on the type of exercise you enjoy, your current level of fitness, and what you want to achieve, one of these disciplines may be perfect for you.

Hold Your Stretches For a Long Enough Time

A daily stretching routine is an excellent way to increase flexibility. It is important not to rush through it. Many people will hold a stretch for 5-10 seconds. This is not enough time to take the stiffness out of your tissues. Experts recommend holding a stretch for 30 seconds. This will help muscles and tendons loosen up and over time, significantly increase flexibility.

Take a Warm Bath or Shower

In order for muscles to become more flexible, they must be relaxed. When exercising, muscles have a tendency to stiffen up. Taking a warm bath or shower every day can help your muscles reach a relaxed state. This will go a long way toward improving your flexibility. A warm bath right before stretching can reap excellent benefits.

Eat Enough Protein

Although diet doesn't directly affect flexibility, eating sufficient amounts of protein can be helpful. Muscles are built from protein. This essential nutrient can help strengthen muscles which can reduce joint pain. Less pain helps improve your stretching workouts. You can hold stretches longer and over time, you will achieve better results.

Physical fitness is important to a healthy life. For the highest level of fitness, don't neglect flexibility. Regular stretching-type exercise, done properly and regularly, can help you be more flexible, less prone to injury, and overall healthier.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Orange Park, Fla.

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