How to get EXTREMELY flexible!
How to get EXTREMELY flexible !
It may not be surprising to you to learn that there are so many great benefits of stretching and being consistent with a flexibility program.
Although, if you are finding yourself not reaching your goals or giving up then in this article we are going to discuss common things people are doing wrong or may be giving up because of not seeing any results. It may be as simple as changing up when you perform static stretches and when to incorporate dynamic stretches.
Being flexible is more than just sitting in uncomfortable poses for hours long. Flexibility is based on the range of motion in your joint and is influenced by the surrounding muscles, ligaments, tendons, and particular anatomy of the joint itself.
- Make sure you are doing the movements correctly (if you do not know then you can consult a qualified professional either a doctor, physiotherapist, qualified coach or certified fitness trainer)
- Listen to your body. Pay attention to your body’s signals, such as pain and stiffness. The amount of flexibility that is best for you will also be specific to you. Having tight muscles and a limited range of motion indicates that you need to integrate stretching exercises. Loose, weak muscles with joint instability and dislocation is a sign that you may need to focus more on muscle and joint strengthening. While you must stretch a muscle beyond its normal length to increase flexibility, the stretch should not cause pain. Pain tells you that you are stretching too much or pushing yourself beyond what is safe for you to do. You do not want to tear a muscle, sprain a ligament or dislocate a joint, so pay attention to what your body is telling you and stop when you feel pain. Injuries take time to heal and will slow down your progress.
- Create a routine. Stretch at least 2-3 days a week after properly warming up with a cardio activity such as running, or Gymnastics line work warm up (I will discuss this further down) Include dynamic activities as well as static, isometric / PNF stretches into a regular exercise routine to become flexible more quickly.
- Warm up. Performing Cardio for at least 30 mins, dynamic movements that are similar to the activity that you will be performing for exercise or sport is the best way to warm up your muscles. (Refer to my blog about warming up)
- Practice dynamic stretches. Dynamic stretching after an active warm up uses momentum to stretch muscles without holding the end stretch position. These type of movements can increase power, make you more flexible and increase your range of motion. Additionally, dynamic stretching before your workout will help you get better results with your static stretching exercises so that you see results faster.
- Practice static stretches After your workout, in a cool-down practice static stretching, which involves slowly stretching a muscle to its end position and holding the stretch for at least 30 seconds. Contortionist level flexibility do however stretch for longer periods of time at least 1-3 hours daily within their routine, however if you are just starting out then 30mins -1 hour is plenty. This type of stretching helps to lengthen tightened muscles, increase flexibility and circulation as well as heal tears and reduce soreness.
- Do isometric or PNF stretching. This type of static stretching uses muscle resistance and isometric contractions (tensing) of the stretched muscles to stretch more muscle fibres further. For this reason, isometric stretching is one of the fastest ways to become more flexible and also helps build strength and reduce stretching discomfort.Putting a muscle in a stretched position (also called a passive stretch) and holding for a few seconds. Contracting the muscle without moving (also called isometric), such as pushing gently against the stretch without actually moving. This is when the reflex is triggered and there is a 6 to 10 second window of opportunity for a beyond ‘normal’ stretch,Relaxing the stretch, and then stretching again while exhaling. This second stretch should be deeper than the first. Using PNF /isometric static stretches could mean a trainer provides resistance as an athlete contracts the muscle and pushes the leg down to the floor or For example, in a hamstring stretch, this could mean engaging the muscles to raise the leg further, as the trainer pushes in the same direction.
- Use a Foam roller, Stretch band, daisy stretcher and other stretching props to assist You will select a muscle group to exercise, then roll slowly back and forth from the start of the muscle to the bottom for 20-30 seconds. Check out our selection of foam rollers and stretching accessories. from foam to ridged rollers to see which best suits what you may need.
An example of a Gymnastics Line work warm up which incorporates dynamic flexibility before going straight into stretching !
- Run/ jog either on the spot, up and back in a distance on a treadmill or elliptical.
- Front leg kicks Hands on your hips, keeping your hips forward, chest up and back heel down with straight legs kick your opposite leg up. Either performed walking back and forth or holding a wall or barre.
- Back leg kicks arms straight above your head next to your ears, head neutral, one, two step and kick back leg up behind you, keeping your hips forward, and at the same time reaching your shoulders and chest up. (working your hip flexors/ hamstrings and shoulder flexibility)
- Bear /Rabbit jumps hands and feet on the ground , legs straight, keeping your hands on the ground, jump your feet towards your hands as close as they can go, lifting your hips over your hands. Then moving your hands forward to repeat the movement until you reach the end of the row / a couple of metres in front.
- Caterpillar / inch worms standing in a straight position, place your hands on the ground in front of you in a Gymnastics front support position (hands shoulder width apart, slightly behind your shoulders, ribs in and belly in , suck bottom in ) then inch your feet towards your hands, keeping your back straight and legs straight as much as possible . If you have the space then repeat by moving hands forward etc.. if you are doing this in one place then move feet back then forward and repeat at least 10 times making sure you are holding the front support for at least 3 seconds. (engaging hamstrings
- Crab crawls from the ground, place your hands close facing your bottom and feet firmly on the ground lift your bottom up , lifting your belly engaging your core up to the roof like a table top and walk back and forth.
As you can see this is a small Cardio warmup which incorporates some Dynamic flexibility and also strength which is a big part of being really flexible. As mentioned in my previous Blog Post about warming up, after a cardio warm up then you can progress to some dynamic stretches. When you are cooling down you can do some static stretches.
So in conclusion again just remember;
- Warm up with cardio
- Incorporate dynamic stretches after your cardio workout
- Incorporate static PNF stretches and then static stretches during a cool-down but not before other exercise such as if you are going to practice on the Lyra or start a gymnastics class.
- Practice at least 2-3 times a week for beginners or 1-3 hours daily for more advanced.
- Make a routine and be consistent by sticking to it.
I could talk about flexibility and contortion all day .. which I will continue with more blogs soon. check out this great follow along Flexibility video for extreme back flexibility