5 Simple Ways to Increase Your Flexibility

5 Simple Ways to Increase Your Flexibility

Stretching can help to improve flexibility and mobility by decreasing muscle tensionincreasing blood flow to your muscles, and easing your muscles back into their natural resting state.

And because inflexible muscles tend to tire more quickly — causing neighboring muscle groups to work harder from picking up the slack — a regular stretching routine may help you get more out of your workouts.

Read on for five simple tips on how to increase flexibility.

Improve flexibility, mobility, and alignment right from home with live and on-demand yoga on Openfit! Try it here for free.

 

1. Be Consistent

Genetics, biomechanics, and structural alignment can all limit flexibility, says Openfit Live Trainer Wayne Stewart, NASM-CPT, RYT-200. So if you want to increase flexibility, hard work and consistency are essential — just like they are for any other fitness goal.

Create a fitness plan that incorporates stretching along with rest days to give your muscles a chance to repair and rebuild. A program like XB Stretch can help you stick to a consistent stretching schedule.

 

2. Vary Your Stretching Styles

Stretching alleviates tension within our bodies and may reduce the stress associated with common ailments like back stiffness and muscle soreness.

If you’re wondering how to increase flexibility, Stewart recommends incorporating each of the following stretch techniques:

Passive stretching

woman stretching with yoga strap | how to increase flexibility

In this technique, you are relaxed and you do not actively pull yourself into a stretch. For example, you passively stretch when you use a towel, band, another person, or gravity to lengthen your body.

Active stretching

man on his back holding legs up | how to increase flexbility

In active stretching, you assume a stretching position and hold it with zero assistance other than the agonist (actively contracting) muscles’ strength. Try lifting your leg into the air and maintaining an extended position. The tension of the agonist muscles holding your leg in place relaxes the stretching muscles.

Dynamic stretching

man kicking leg up | how to increase flexibility

Dynamic stretching includes controlled leg and arm swings that bring you to the limits of your range of motion. Dynamic stretches are typically shorter in length and involve moving in and out of stretches and and gentle twists. These types of stretches are particularly beneficial during an active warm-up.

Static stretching

woman holding static leg stretch | how to increase flexibility

Remember those forward folds, side bends, and hamstring stretches you did in gym class? Those are static stretches. This technique involves sitting or lying still while positioning a joint as far as it can go, then holding the stretch for a bit — usually 30 to 90 seconds.

 

3. Drink More Water

Water makes up 76 percent of our muscle mass — but, as mentioned in this 2019 study, there is a decline in water in our bodies as we age.

“As we age and become more sedentary, we lose flexibility and range of motion in our bodies,” Stewart says. Proper hydration may help reduce this risk and keep muscles flexible and functioning at their utmost capacity.

 

4. Take a Yoga Class

woman taking online yoga class | how to increase flexibility

Yoga focuses on strengthening, stretching, and lengthening the muscles with different poses that target large and small muscle groups at a time. Being guided through various poses will promote flexibility throughout the body, Stewart says, and each posture may be adapted to suit your personal needs.

If you have limited mobility — or you’re just stuck at a desk all day — try easing into a yoga practice with simple chair yoga poses.

 

5. Focus on Your Breath

People often hold their breath while lifting weights without realizing it. Those shallow or short breaths keep oxygen from making it to your muscles, which can contribute to muscle fatigue.

When doing strength training exercises, research suggests the most effective breathing technique is to take a deep breath at the beginning of each rep, then forcefully exhale during exertion. While stretching, practice big-belly breaths or diaphragmatic breathing to fuel your muscles.

brit yeager - author

About

Brit Yeager is a writer and editor with a degree in News-Editorial Journalism with an emphasis in English Literature from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She is a registered, experienced yoga instructor and wrote for the Yoga Journal magazine, primarily writing the beauty and style pages. Brit lives in Atlanta, Georgia, and is working on her first novel. Connect with her on Linkedin