Many people believe that flexibility is an in-born talent – that you can’t work towards touching your toes while standing, or working up to a full split. But this isn’t true at all. Any dancer or gymnast will tell you that flexibility is a physical skill just like weight-lifting. If you’ve ever dreamt of having the flexibility to perform inspiring yoga stretches, then take a few minutes every day to work towards flexibility using the following tips,
Static stretches are the classic pre- or -post- exercise stretches that we perform to make sure we won’t injure ourselves during a strenuous routine. For a good static stretch, you want to hold the position for at least 20 seconds. A full static stretch routine should last 5-10 minutes, and is a great way to start or end your day.
The most important static stretches include:
- Forward Fold/Toe Touch – Either standing or sitting, reach down with both hands and reach to touch or hold your toes. if you can’t fully extend to touching your toes, start at your calves/ankles and gently stretch further.
- Quad Stretch – While standing, lift a leg off the ground, grab your ankle, and pull it as close to your back as possible. This is a classic runner’s stretch.
- Cross-Body Shoulder Stretch – Reach past one shoulder with the opposite hand, and use the other hand to hold the stretching arm in place.
- Overhead Side Reach – Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, reach up with one hand and then tilt to the opposite side. Place the other hand on your hip for stability.
- Tricep Stretch – Reach to the sky with one hand, then bend at the elbow so your palm is behind your head. Us your other hand to gently pull the active arm into a deeper stretch. If you can’t reach that far, hold on to a towel with the stretching hand for a way to pull it deeper.
- Seated Hamstring Stretch – While sitting, spread your legs and reach down towards one foot.
- Butterfly Stretch – Sit on the floor with the soles of your feet meeting each other. This position opens the hips. Moving your feet closer to your body provides a deeper stretch.
This is not an expansive list of stretches, but they are among the most common and basic for starting your flexibility journey. Never ‘bounce’ into a stretch, as this can over-extend and cause injuries. All stretching should be done gently and slowly.