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Five exercises to improve flexibility

In this era of technological advancement it’s easy to become more and more sedentary. We barely need to leave the comfort of our beds anymore in a world where everything is accessible at the click of a button. That’s why it’s more crucial than ever that we take time to focus on caring for our bodies and our overall health.

Improving flexibility is extremely beneficial. Generally you will be less stressed and have more energy during the day. Flexibility preserves your muscles and protects you from frequent injuries, improves posture, increases blood flow which improves circulation, and improves ease of movement which means less aches and pains.

There are many types of workouts that will promote muscle-suppleness including yoga, swimming, water aerobics, dancing, pilates and tai chi.

Here are five simple flexibility exercises that you can add to your weekly routine:

Shoulder rolls

This stretching exercise is one that is easy to perform and incorporate into your daily routine. It is especially helpful for those of us who spend a lot of time hunched over a computer. This exercise is not only beneficial to your shoulder muscles but to your chest and upper back as well.

  1. Begin by standing or sitting up straight with your arms hanging loosely by your sides.
  2. Slowly rotate your shoulders by shrugging them up to your ears and rolling them back.
  3. Then slowly rotate your shoulders forwards. Start off with small circles and build your way up slowly to larger ones.

Cat stretch

The cat stretch is extremely effective in improving flexibility and relieving tension in both your lower and upper back.

  1. Get down on your hands and knees, straighten your back and engage your abdominal muscles. It is important that your knees are positioned under your hips and your hands are placed directly under your shoulders.
  2. Take a deep breath in, curve your back up towards the ceiling and let your chin drop down toward your chest.
  3. Exhale slowly and arch your back, tilting your head back towards the ceiling.

Chest stretch

This simple but effective exercise will not only release the tension in your chest muscles but will also improve your posture when performed on a regular basis.

  1. While standing or sitting raise your arms up to shoulder height with your palms facing forward.
  2. Keep your arms straight and slowly move them back as far as possible while squeezing your shoulder blades together. Stop when you feel the stretch in your chest.
  3. Hold for 20 seconds.

Hip flex

  1. Lie down on your back with your knees up, feet together and your shoulders on the floor.
  2. Keeping your feet close together lower one knee down to the side as far as you can.
  3. Bring your knee back up and lower the other knee down on the opposite side. Ensure that you keep the leg that is not engaged as still as possible.
  4. Repeat five times on both sides.

Downward-Facing Dog

Downward-facing dog is one of the most famous yoga poses for good reason. It improves flexibility in almost every part of the body including your spine, hips, shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arms, shoulders, ankles and even your hands. It is also known to improve digestion and relieve headaches and insomnia. Depending on your level of flexibility it can be quite difficult so this exercise is one that is best worked up to after following the previous exercises.

  1. Start off by getting down on your hands and knees.
  2. Push up and place your feet hip distance apart.
  3. Ensure that your fingers are stretched out and that your hands are positioned directly below the centre of your shoulders.
  4. Lift up your hips by engaging your abs.
  5. Keep your knees slightly bent to make it easier in the beginning and keep your spine and arms straight ensuring that your shoulders aren’t hunched up to your ears. As a beginner it’s not crucial for your heels to be touching the floor.
  6. Hold this position for 2 or 3 breaths.

Remember to stay hydrated so that your muscles respond to the exercises properly. It is recommended that you add flexibility exercises to your routine at least 3 times a week. You should also treat yourself to regular massages from a skilled therapist to add extra relief, increase suppleness and reduce stress. Always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

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Written by Taryn Hill

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