Flexibility exercises help to maintain or improve range of motion for joints.
Types of Flexibility
Joint flexibility, also known as dynamic flexibility, is determined by the range of motion the joint permits. Without dynamic flexibility, a person's usual activities are curtailed. Something as mundane as reaching up to take a dish from the kitchen cabinet can be restricted if a person loses flexibility in their shoulder joint. Loss of dynamic flexibility hinders range of motion, but the good news is that stretching and flexibility exercises can help restore this range.
A second type of flexibility deals with the ability to hold an extended position. For instance, lifting your leg and holding it out without any other support for an extended period of time is an example of static-active flexibility.
The third type of flexibility is known as static-passive flexibility and deals with the body's ability to maintain an extended position like the splits.
Of these three types of flexibility, developing adequate range of motion flexibility is important to avoid long-term injuries.
Daily Flexibility Exercises
People with poor flexibility run the risk of risk of injuring themselves, but the good news is that you can improve your flexibility with daily flexibility exercises. They don't have to take a long time, and flexibility exercises don't require much space. All you need is the commitment to do them:
- Back Stretch: Get onto your hands and knees to stretch your back. This flexibility exercise is also known as the cat stretch because it mimics the move a cat does when it stretches. It's a slow, deliberate movement. Inhale and arch your back toward the ceiling. Exhale and lower to the starting position and relax. Repeat.
- Calf Stretch: Stand with your left foot next to a wall and bent forearms supported by the wall. With your right foot resting flat-footed, extend your right leg behind you, stretching the calf muscle. This should be an easy stretch. Change position to stretch the left leg following the same procedure.
- Chest Stretch: With your right palm and forearm placed flat against the wall, turn slightly stretching the chest. Repeat with the left arm to stretch the other side.
- Hamstring Stretch: This flexibility exercise is done while in a seated position.
- Extend the left leg (keep ankle and toes relaxed).
- Bend the right leg.
- Bring the bottom of your right foot to the inside of your left knee.
- Rest your right hand on top of your left hand.
- Keep lower back straight.
- Reach toward your left foot.
- Stretch for Inner Thigh: In a seated position, bring your feet toward your body and hold them. Press elbows downward toward your knees. This flexibility exercise stretches your inner thighs.
- Quadriceps Stretch: Place your left forearm against the wall and with your right hand reach behind yourself and grab the toes of your left foot. Pull the heel of your foot toward your butt.
- Shoulder Stretch: With your left arm, reach in front of your body and position your right wrist under your left wrist. Pull the extended arm toward your body and hold the stretch.
- Spinal Twist: While in a seated position on the floor:
- Extend your left leg in front of you
- Bend the right leg bringing the right foot to the outside of your left knee.
- Reach behind you with your right hand to support your weight.
- Rest your left arm on the outside of the right leg.
- Twist the torso slightly.
- Use your left arm to lengthen the stretch.
- Triceps Stretch: With a bent right arm placed overhead, put the fingers of your right hand in the middle of your back. With your left arm, pull the right elbow back. This stretch will be felt in the back of your arm.
Flexibility exercises should be done at least three days a week. With this in mind, follow these other basics for maximum benefit:
- Stretch should not hurt, but will produce mild discomfort.
- Hold the stretch for a duration of 10-30 seconds.
- Perform three to five repetitions for each exercise on each side.
- Stretches should be performed slowly without bouncing.