How to stretch to improve flexibility

August 08, 2022 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

As we age, certain exercises that were once easy to perform with little to no difficulty can become demanding and might even cause discomfort or pain. As flexibility naturally declines, our mobility and ability to perform everyday activities becomes limited.

Flexibility is the ability of your muscles to stretch temporarily, and mobility is the ability of your joints to move freely without pain. Improving flexibility and mobility are important aspects of your health. How can you get started?

Stretching just a few minutes each week can dramatically increase your flexibility over time. A proper warm-up and cool down — with stretching incorporated — is key to a good workout and a great way to improve flexibility. Try these tips:

  • Warm-ups should consist of a short, low-intensity exercise that warms up the body. This may include walking on the treadmill as well as dynamic stretching, which involves controlled movements to warm up your muscles. This type of mobility routine helps take the muscles you’re targeting through their full range of motion. While you’re warming up, reflect on the movements you’re about to perform in your workout. Try to mimic these motions with no weight. Resistance bands are great for warming up.

  • After your workout, it’s time to cool down with static stretching, or stretches that you hold in place for a given amount of time. This is usually the most familiar type of stretching. It is best done after working out while the body is still warm. It’s also highly beneficial for the body even if you only do it for a short amount of time.

Warm-ups prepare your body to elicit a better response and provide a bigger benefit during your workouts. Warm-ups also loosen joints and decrease your risk of injury, increase heart rate and blood flow, and engage your nervous system.

Cool downs and stretching are important for recovery and helping to maintain flexibility throughout the body’s full range of motion. Stretching can also help decrease stress, boost energy and improve posture.

Every person’s flexibility and mobility routine may look different. If warm-ups and cool downs are taken seriously, and performed with intent, they can have a tremendous impact on the way you feel and perform — in and out of the gym.

Need help with improving your flexibility? A fitness specialist can help you develop a fitness program that works for you.

Drive your health forward at Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness.

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