“So I said to the gym instructor: ‘Can you teach me to do the splits?’ He said: ‘How flexible are you?’ I said: I can’t make Tuesdays.'” ~Tim Vine
Your Fit Mission: Extend Your Range of Motion in One Month or Less
Increasing your flexibility strengthens your joints, reduces your risk of injury, and enhances your balance.
Stick with us for 10 minutes, and learn how to extend your range of motion quickly and effectively.
Developing a Stretching Routine
Stretching exercises increase your flexibility by working your muscles and tendons, the elastic tissue that connects muscles to bones. Some studies suggest that stretching may also increase your muscle mass and endurance.
1. Warm up. Stretching warm muscles is safer and easier. Do most of your stretching at the end of your workout. If you like to stretch in advance, walk around for a few minutes first.
2. Proceed gradually. Gentle stretching yields faster results than pushing yourself too hard. When you force a stretch, you create scar tissue in your body that limits your mobility. Skip any exercise that causes sudden discomfort. Talk with your doctor if you have any concerns.
3. Vary your approach. Your body needs time to adapt to unfamiliar movements. In some sessions, you may want to hold a stretch for a few minutes or more. Other times, you might repeat a cycle of brief stretches several times. It also helps to learn a wide assortment of exercises that you can draw from on different days.
4. Take your time. When you hold a stretch for a minute or more, you will often notice that your body eventually relaxes into the position. Take advantage of that opportunity to extend a little further.
5. Even things out. It’s common for one side of your body to be more limber than the other. You may also be relatively loose in the shoulders but tight in the legs. Use your routine to correct imbalances.
6. Open your hips. Stiff hips are a trouble spot for many people. Try sitting in cobbler pose. Sit on the floor with the soles of your feet pressed together and lower your knees as far as possible.
7. Loosen up your back. Stretching eases back pain. Sit on the edge of a chair and bend forward. Take turns arching and rounding your back.
Enhancing Your Posture
Your habitual posture also affects your range of motion. Slouching around tends to shorten your tendons and round your shoulders while standing tall can help keep you supple. Rely on exercises and food choices that build up your bones and core muscles.
1. Perform floor exercises. Many stretches can be done while you’re watching TV or staying in a hotel room. How about doing a few squats or lunges?
2. Lift weights. Weight training increases your bone and muscle mass. It’s an ideal way to slow down the bone loss that comes with aging.
3. Take a walk. Carrying your body weight also helps. Buy a pedometer so you can track and increase the number of steps you take each day.
4. Sit less. You’ve probably seen studies about how sitting can interfere with your mental and physical health. Spend more time on your feet. Try out a standing desk or take breaks every half hour at work to stretch and stroll around. When you sit at your desk, hold your back straight and adjust your chair so that your knees and elbows are at right angles.
5. Eat nourishing foods. Calcium and Vitamin D are nutrients essential for strong bones. Low or no fat dairy products supply calcium, while many foods like breakfast cereals are enriched with Vitamin D.
Win more tennis games or just go about your daily tasks with greater comfort and fewer injuries by extending your range of motion. Releasing muscle tension helps you to look better and age more gracefully.
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