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If your current fitness goal is to get more flexible, then you’re in the right place! This article has loads of in-depth advice, research, and guidance for those of you hoping to improve your flexibility. Being more flexible has loads of extra benefits for your overall health and wellbeing.
This isn’t just for yogis, dancers, gymnasts and contortionists. Many different sports and athletic disciplines require good flexibility. Having good flexibility goes far beyond a bit of stretching after a workout. Imagine going through your day-to-day life without having any aches or pains, and no DOMS or sore muscles whatsoever. That sounds perfect, right?
In this article, you will learn:
- Why flexibility is so important for your fitness progress, overall health, and well-being
- The benefits of stretching
- How to stretch safely and to avoid injuries
- How to become more flexible and the many benefits you will enjoy with increased flexibility
The Benefits of Becoming More Flexible
How you look after your body is important. Flexibility is about freedom. It’s about being able to move freely with comfort and ease. Being flexible may come naturally to you, or it could be something that you have to work on, practicing often until you reach your goal.
Flexibility is more than just physical, being able to stretch your body beyond the realms of what you thought possible has a huge mental benefit too. The freedom of being able to move comfortably has a wider impact on your well-being.
Fewer Aches and Pains
Once you get more flexible, you’ll start to notice that your body generally aches less after any strenuous exercise. If you’re in your twenties or thirties, this won’t be as prominent (yet), but you should get into a good stretching routine that you continue to keep yourself nimble as you get older.
You know how people complain about sore backs and aching joints? Well, focussing on flexibility helps avoid those pains. By becoming more flexible, you’re less likely to suffer in the long-run.
Improved Athletic Ability
If you participate in any form of sport that requires you to be flexible, especially gymnastics, pole dancing for fitness or yoga, then by coming more flexible you may well find that your performance improves too. In fact, almost all sports need athletes with good flexibility!
Related post: What Pole Dancing Really Does to your Body
Better Sex Life
Without getting too graphic, I’ll leave this one to your imagination! But, the more flexible folk will know what I’m talking about, and that rest of you can guess 😉
Being more Flexible Feels Great
It feels wonderful to be more flexible! Being able to stretch your body into shapes, being able to put your palms on the ground without being your knees, or being able to sit in the full lotus position for hours on end is a great feeling. Remember, this is more that just accomplishment and pride, by choosing to get more flexible you’ve chosen to invest in yourself for the long-term. Use this opportunity to meditate or just enjoy how the stretch feels.
How to Get More Flexible
Even if you’re not naturally flexible to begin with, there are still things you can do to improve your flexibility.
Stretch when you’re warm
It’s vital that you stretch when you’re already warm, stretching when your muscles are cold will have a negative effect and maybe even cause injury. You could choose to stretch:
- At the end of a workout (you can still perform light dynamic stretches as part of your warm-up, but save the deep stretches until the end)
- After a hot bath or shower
- When you’ve come in from a run or a long walk
- Outdoors on a warm, sunny day
Your muscles have better elasticity when they’re warm, so it’s easier to stretch further. Be careful not to overstretch yourself, and don’t stretch further than what’s comfortable.
Strengthen your Muscles
If you feel as if being able to touch your toes is impossible, then it may be that you need to strengthen the muscles in order for them to lengthen and open up. Improve your overall fitness alongside your flexibility to see better results.
You know how yoga teachers are always reminding people to breathe properly? Well, it’s really important, that’s why! You should take a deep breath (inhale) and then perform stretches while slowly exhaling. As you’re breathing out, you can move deeper into the stretch and stretch further as a result.
Stretching WON’T Make You Flexible
It’s movement that will ultimately improve your flexibility, there’s a well-known myth that stretching all the time is what will make you more flexible. If you feel as if your muscles are too stiff to perform a certain stretch, then the chances are that you’re not moving enough! Before your stretch, rotate the muscles and joints that you want to stretch, or sway from side to side.
You need to move more in order to be able to stretch more!
Find a series of stretches that you can perform at home. Most importantly, these need to be the type of stretches that you feel comfortable to sit in when you’re just chillin’ at home. For me, I’m happy to sit in a wide straddle on the floor, with my toes points and leaning down on my elbows when working on my laptop or watching TV. I also like stretching on the door frame after I’ve had a shower while I’m waiting for my hair to dry!
Find something that’s comfortable for you that you can incorporate into your daily routine. Don’t include anything that requires you to balance or focus too hard. Some more examples could be.
It’s easy to think that pushing yourself too far will get results. Most of the time, it won’t. The more that you workout, the more that you’ll be able to listen to your body and understand when enough is enough. Your body will tell you if you’re stretching too far.
You should be able to feel the pull of the stretch, but it should not be uncomfortable. Ease into a deep stretch slowly instead of throwing yourself into it. Remember, if you injure yourself, you won’t be able to stretch properly or maintain your routine!
Stretch your Entire Body
When stretching, make sure you stretch every muscle from head to toe. So many people don’t bother stretching their neck, for example, or their hips.
The hip flexor muscles are an important area to work on if you want to get more flexible. They are the Holy Grail; the “hidden survival muscle” in your body that will boost your energy levels, immune system, sexual function, strength and athletic performance when unlocked. If this “hidden” most powerful primal muscle is healthy, then we are healthy.
The #1 Hip Mobility Stretch Mistake
Use Flexibility Equipment
There are loads of items around the house that will help you stretch! I’ve already mentioned using a door frame. You can be creative, and as long as you stay safe (like, don’t pull on heavy cabinets or furniture because that’s just asking for trouble!) then you won’t need to invest in any extra equipment.
Some more examples are:
- Stretching against the wall
- Bed frame
You can also get yoga blocks or resistance bands to aid your stretching
It may not sound like your thing, but trust me on this. Practice yourself some yoga to really feel the benefits! Yoga will give you a full-body workout and stretch that’s suitable for your current fitness level.
If you’re entirely new to yoga, this yoga burn fitness programme will help you along your flexibility journey!
Related post: 18 Beautifully designed printed yoga mats
Focus on your Goals
Your goal may be something crazy, like being a contortionist circus-style performer. But, try to break it down into small actionable steps. Your first goal may be to touch your toes, or you could be working towards the box splits (like me, for my entire life).
Always remember why you want to get more flexible, concentrate on your reasons for motivation rather than the end goal.
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