You probably stretch before your workouts. Maybe you do it a little bit in the morning or before you go to bed. And why? Not only does it feel good, but flexibility can help keep you healthy. A lack of flexibility can not only be uncomfortable but can actually lead to injury, whether it’s while deadlifting 300 pounds or bending over to tie your shoe. Let’s talk about how to increase your flexibility, along with some of the best at-home stretching exercises, even if you’re a total beginner.
How to Increase Flexibility
First, let’s start with a few quick pointers you need to know. It doesn’t matter how often you do your stretching exercises. If you don’t also keep these things in mind, your body won’t respond the way you want it to.
1. Sit Less, Stand More
One of the biggest culprits of a lack of flexibility is excessive sitting and poor posture. When you sit for too long, certain muscles tighten up — like your hip flexors. Slouching is just as bad. With rounded shoulders, your pecs tighten up.
Do this day after day, week after week, year after year, and your flexibility is going to suffer tremendously.
Instead of trying to undo the damage, avoid causing the damage in the first place. Sit less, stand more.
2. Stay Hydrated
Drinking sufficient water is important for your health in general — you likely already know that. But did you know that it can also help in your quest for becoming more flexible?
Water helps keep your joints and muscles lubricated so that they can move properly and in a safe manner. Drink up!
3. Combine Flexibility With Mobility
The two are not interchangeable, but both are important. Flexibility and mobility go hand in hand. Your electric muscle stimulation device will be a great addition to this. You can use PowerDot to improve your mobility (and thus your flexibility), even if you can’t stand or be quite as active as you’d like.
Plus, because it helps you recover faster (largely thanks to improved circulation), even after the most grueling workout, you can rest assured that your muscles won’t tighten up and keep you in a state of stiffness and discomfort for the next several days.
Now, let’s get to the types of specific stretching exercises you can do and how they’ll benefit you.
The Best At-Home Stretching Exercises to Improve Your Flexibility
Let’s get into specific stretching exercises that you can try to increase your flexibility.
1. Couch Stretch
You can do the couch stretch against a wall or as the name implies, a couch. There’s a reason this one is so challenging: It addresses the muscles that suffer the most from excessive sitting.
The couch stretch will help to open up your hips, elongate your quads, and even activate your glutes. Your flexibility (and mobility) will benefit, not to mention that it’s a good stretch to do if you’re suffering from back pain.
2. Happy Baby
The happy baby stretch gets its name from — you guessed it — how babies sometimes lay.
Like the couch stretch, this one packs a big punch. It loosens your lower back and sacrum, hips and groin, and even your hamstrings. As an added bonus, it simply feels really good.
If you’re looking for more stretching exercises for your back, this one is a must. You can deepen the stretch further by pulling your feet back more, and also try rocking side to side.
3. Doorway Stretch
Ready to combat your slouching? The doorway stretch is perfect for this. All you do is stand in a doorway with your shoulders and elbows bent at 90-degree angles. Hang onto the door frame with your hands, put one foot slightly forward, and gently lean in.
You should feel a stretch across your pecs, but this one will also grease the joints and loosen the muscles throughout your shoulders and upper back. If your upper body is particularly inflexible, this is a good stretch to do each day.
4. Pigeon Pose
If you’re into yoga, perhaps you’ve tried the pigeon stretch already — although it’s also a go-to for CrossFitters.
What’s great about the pigeon pose is that it’s a very deep stretch but is more than gentle and low-impact enough for even the most inflexible of us. It’s excellent for targeting your glutes, groin, and psoas.
Remember that with all of these stretching exercises, form matters! With the pigeon pose specifically, think of keeping your hips squared.
5. Standard Lunge (and Lunge Variations)
There’s a reason why lunges are such a popular stretch. They target your hips, glutes, hamstrings, quads, ankles, and even your core.
Plus, the standard lunge can be tweaked into all sorts of variations.
- Drop the knee of your back leg for an even deeper stretch within your hip flexors.
- Place your hands or forearms on the ground.
- Place one hand on the ground and look up toward the sky, bringing your other arm upward as you do so for a relaxing spinal twist.
6. Straddle Stretch
This one is a bit more advanced, so approach cautiously.
The straddle stretch helps loosen up your hips (adductors and flexors), quads, hamstrings, and calves. The more you lean into it, the more you work on upper body flexibility as well — including your pecs and shoulders.
As your flexibility improves, you can lean straight forward but can also fold at the hips toward each leg individually. If you’re not quite there yet, don’t worry! Focus on sitting upright in the straddle stretch, engaging your core and keeping your upper body straight and engaged.
This list certainly isn’t exhaustive, but with these six stretching exercises for beginners, you’ll be well on your way to a more flexible body.
Remember, too, what we talked about earlier: Flexibility isn’t only about stretching. Drink plenty of water, move your body more, and incorporate additional tools like PowerDot and even foam rollers and lacrosse balls.
Do you stretch before training? Learn more about how to warm up for a workout.
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