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Can you touch your toes? No bending knees are allowed! This is a question that frequently gets asked when someone's flexibility comes into question, but it's not only about that. If you want to become better at training, with reduced soreness, then being flexible is a key component in achieving your goals.BackRead More
How To Become Flexible?
Stretching is the most effective way to become more flexible but is also overlooked by many people who train. Athletes incorporate it into their fitness regimes but more often than not it is found that general gym-goers do not spend enough time warming up and increasing their range of motion before doing exercises.
What is not certain is the best way to stretch. We know that stretching, in general, is healthy and necessary before and after training but what is not definitively known is the way we should be stretching. Static stretching has been found to increase hamstring length but is it the best method when compared to other ways of stretching? In recent studies it has been suggested that dynamic stretching shows the most improvement in flexibility. The effectiveness is not only linked to a loosening up of the muscles, but the increased movement during the stretch contributes to expanding range of motion.
Today, we are seeing more people living what are known as ‘sedentary’ lives. People spend their days at desks doing jobs for around 9 hours per day, and in that time there is often only the availability of short breaks where you’re able to get up and move. Due to this, stretching should actually be employed more regularly as a method to combat this
Another form of training that is to be used in conjunction with stretching to increase flexibility is resistance training. Resistance training is normally associated with building muscle but there are other impacts that have seen to be positively linked to flexibility and range of motion increases. The results of a preliminary study suggest that “carefully constructed full-range resistance training regimens can improve flexibility as well as the typical static stretching regimens employed in conditioning programs.” This positive impact is important with regards to training because it adds more benefit to regular resistance training too.
Resistance training should be incorporated into every exercise regime because “it has been shown to reduce body fat, increase basal metabolic rate, decrease blood pressure and the cardiovascular demands to exercise, improve blood lipid profiles, glucose tolerance, and insulin sensitivity, increase muscle and connective tissue cross-sectional area, improve functional capacity, and relieve low back pain.”
A key ingredient to becoming more flexible is to be more mindful and take things slowly, so that you spend time extending your muscles and regulating your breathing. Pilates is now incorporated into many training programmes because of the added benefit it brings to a normally intense workout.
A study demonstrated that “in active middle-aged men and women, exposure to Pilates exercise for 12 weeks, for two 60-minute sessions per week, was enough to promote statistically significant increases in abdominal endurance, hamstring flexibility, and upper-body muscular endurance.” It doesn't matter what sort of Pilates you’re doing, the fact that you do them about once a week to change up your training will contribute to improved flexibility and a lot more other healthy benefits.
Finally, we get to yoga. Yoga has become popularised not only because it requires contorting your body into positions you never thought were possible and seeing actual improvement in flexibility, but also because it is very calming and mindful, which is needed in today’s world when there are so many stressors.
In a study over 10 weeks, regular yoga practice indicated increased the flexibility and balance as well as whole body measures of male college athletes, which may enhance athletic performances that require these characteristics.
Continual yoga sessions and progression loosens the muscles and connective tissues of the body, which leads to a reduction in pain during and after exercise. Therefore, doing a regular yoga class can help you to reduce inflammation and stiffness after exercise.
Furthermore, yoga is relaxing. It is a calming, meditative practice that requires prolonged and mindful movements that increases your feelings of relaxation and lowers your stress levels. With a happier outlook on life you’ll find that you will value yourself more and spend time concentrating on what matters, rather than what is a source of stress – possibly allowing you to find better solutions to problems.