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Why Improving Flexibility Is Critical To Your Health (+5 Stretch Exercises To Try At Home)

Staying flexible through our lives is extremely important for our overall health. As we get older, having muscular flexibility will help with a greater quality of life, allowing us to keep moving freely in everyday activities and maintain balance throughout the body.

The Benefits Of Good Muscular Flexibility

  • Prevents everyday injury: Muscle and disc strain from simply turning in bed, shoulder strains from lifting, and even walking up and down stairs can be prevented with greater flexibility.
  • Lengthens muscles: This helps you look much leaner.
  • Improves posture: Flexible muscles around the back are able to support the spine.
  • Makes cardio workouts much easier: Running or walking will become much lighter and easier.
  • Enhances sport performance: Flexible movements in the joints and muscles will allow you to be more efficient in various sports.
  • Allows you to move better in confined spaces: The ability to sit in different positions while traveling will be much easier.

Simple Stretches For Better Flexibility

1. Seated Spinal Twist

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This exercise is good for targeting the back, abs, and obliques.

  • Sit on the floor with your back straight and tall. Engage your abs and stretch both legs out in front of you.
  • Bring your right leg up and place it over your left leg.
  • With your left arm holding your right leg, slowly rotate your upper body around to the right, keeping your nose in line with your breastbone.
  • Stretch around as far as possible until you feel a gentle stretch throughout your back and side.
  • Hold for 30 seconds and return to center. Repeat on the left side.
  • Aim to do 10 reps.

2. Reclining Pigeon

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This exercise is good for stretching lower back, hips, glutes, and hamstrings.

  • Lie down facing up, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor.
  • Cross a flexed right foot over your left thigh. Hook your arms around the left hamstring.
  • Lift your left foot off the floor, keeping your back and shoulders flat to the ground.
  • Gently pull your right leg towards you until you feel a stretch. Hold this position for a 1-2 minute(s) and release your feet to the ground.
  • Repeat on the opposite side.

3. Standing Tricep Stretch

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This exercise stretches the muscles in your neck, shoulders, back, abs, and triceps.

  • Stand up tall, straight-backed with feet hip-width apart and arms extended above your head.
  • Bend your right elbow so that the palm is placed on the upper back.
  • Reach your left hand over to grab your right elbow and gently pull your elbow back and towards your head.
  • Hold this position for up to a minute, release, and swap sides.

4. Swan Stretch

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This exercise target the shoulders, back, chest, abs, obliques, and hip flexors.

  • Lying face down on the floor, place your hands in front of your shoulders, fingers facing forward, and legs stretched out behind you.
  • Pressing down with your hands, gently lift your belly off the floor. Keep your abs engaged, shoulders down, and pelvis grounded parallel with the floor.
  • Lengthen the upper body away from the floor, reaching up and out from the crown of the head. Make sure you draw your shoulder blades together. Hold this pose for 30 to 45 seconds and release. Repeat 5 times to increase flexibility.

5. Hip Flexor/Quad Stretch

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This stretch targets hip flexors, quads, and hamstrings.

  • Kneel on the floor with both knees bent, shins on floor.
  • Lunge your right leg forward, so that your right knee is bent 90 degrees in front of you, your right foot is flat on the floor directly under the knee, and your left leg is still bent underneath you, parallel to the right.
  • Place both hands on top of your right knee and press back, hip forward, and lean into the stretch.
  • Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other leg.

Things To Keep In Mind

  • Keep water handy when stretching to encourage yourself to hydrate.
  • Try to perform these stretches daily to see and feel the best results.
  • Perform them either first thing in the morning or before bedtime, but especially after any exercise.
  • Make sure you don’t over-stretch. Go as far as it’s comfortable for you. You’ll get more flexible with ease with practice.
  • Work with warm muscles because they lengthen more easily and with less discomfort.
  • Breathe comfortably. Exhale as the muscle lengthens to assist in relaxation.

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