IMPROVING ON YOUR FLEXIBILITY
One of the most common questions I get asked is; How do I improve my flexibility? I have tried everything and no matter what I do, I can’t increase my flexibility past a certain point…
Does this sound familiar? Is your flexibility stuck, and nothing you do makes any difference?
Well, if that’s the case, you need not panic. This is quite normal. In fact it’s very common with all aspects of physical fitness, not just flexibility. Athletes and sports people often talk about reaching a “plateau,” where one aspect of their fitness seems to get stuck.
So what can you do about it? Is it out of your control? Or are there simple tips and tricks to get you past that plateau?
You bet there are! And here are some of the best tips; guaranteed to smash through that plateau and take you to a whole new level of flexibility.
However, before I go ahead to give you those tips, why not sit back and take a sojourn with me on what flexibility is all about.
The Term Flexibility or limberness refers to the range of movement in a joint or series of joints and length in muscles that cross the joints to induce bending, movement or motion. Flexibility varies between individuals, particularly in terms of differences in muscle length of multi-joint muscles.
The intention of flexibility is the ability of an individual’s joints to move through their full range of motion without pain or stiffness. It therefore also refers to the pliability of the muscles that support the joints. Flexible muscles and tendons allow for greater range of motion during activities. Do you want to jump higher, run faster, and be able to move without pain? If you’re active and exercising regularly some of the reasons you may not be reaching your goals is not for lack of activity, but rather lack of mobility.
TYPES OF FLEXIBILITY
There are different exercises I will be introducing in this post, but before then, I think it would be wise enough to let you know the types of flexibility we have;
Dynamic flexibility ‘otherwise referred to as kinetic flexibility’ is the ability to perform dynamic movements of the muscles in other to bring a limb through its full range of motion in the joints. Which can also be used for a warm-up or, if time is short, it can be a workout in itself.
Static-active flexibility ‘also called active flexibility’ is the ability to assume and maintain extended positions using only the tension of the muscle and ‘synergists‘ while the antagonists are being stretched. For example, squats.
Static-passive flexibility ‘also known as passive flexibility’ is the ability to assume extended positions while maintaining them using only your weight, the support of your limbs, or some other apparatus.
With the types of flexibility being discussed above, we can now venture into the various ‘exercises‘ you can do to improve your flexibility, including stretching, Static stretching or holding one position for an extended period, might be your preferred method of warming up before a workout.
There are a few joint Mobility Exercises to Improve Flexibility and Function.
Good ankle mobility contributes to better balance, fewer falls, and better performance during activities like squats and dead lifts.
Movement: plantarflexion, ankle dorsiflexion
Simple Step Tips:
- Stand up tall facing a wall
- Place hands on the wall for support
- Slowly rock forward onto your toes, coming into a tip-toe position
- Slowly rock back onto your heels, lifting your toes off the ground
- Repeat 10 times or more, holding the wall for balance.
Walking hip openers:
Knowing that your hip joint is a ball and socket joint that moves in all directions. It’s very important to warm up the hip and surrounding muscles before any workout, since they are key contributors to balance and stability.
Muscles worked: hip extensors, glutes, hip flexors, hip adductors.
- Stand up tall with feet, hip-width apart.
- Take one step forward with your right leg, plant your foot firmly on the ground and lift your left knee to your chest.
- While standing on one leg, make a circle with your knee, bringing it across your body and then out to the side.
- Place left foot on the floor and repeat on the right side.
- Repeat 10 times or more, then repeat entire sequence moving your legs in the opposite direction by bringing your leg out to the side first and then, in a circle across your body.
Note: When you stretch, you’re working on muscles and tendons rather than ligaments. Ligaments are not supposed to be elastic. An overly stretchy ligament wouldn’t provide the stability and support needed for a safe range of movement.
Strength and Flexibility
Aha! I know you might be thinking, what’s strength got to do with flexibility?
Well dear, quite a bit to be honest. In fact, strength and flexibility are much related. Or should I say; interrelated.
You see, the flexibility of a muscle is very dependent on the strength of that muscle. Especially strength at the end, ranges of different motion.
At some point, It’s like your body won’t let you go past a certain level of flexibility until it knows you have the muscle strength to handle that improved range of motion.
Muscle strength is crucial for joint stability, so if you’re trying to improve your flexibility around a particular joint, but the muscles that stabilize that joint are weak, all you’re doing is making that joint more vulnerable to injury.
Therefore, work on your strength as well as flexibility. As the strength of your muscles improves, especially at the end ranges of motion, so will your flexibility.