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Showing posts with label Flexibility. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Flexibility. Show all posts

7 Exercises for Increasing Flexibility

Flexibility is important - especially as you get older.

Having loose, supple muscles will give you more energy on a day to day basis - and you will experience less pain thanks to your increased flexibility. As your week goes on, many people accumulate their stress and muscle fatigue in the shoulders, neck and back. Athletes commonly carry muscular stress in the hips, hamstrings, and calves - proof that anyone can get pain from muscle fatigue if they don't spend ample time keeping their muscles flexible.

Muscular tightness will drag you down, ruin your posture over time, cause you to feel clumsy and slow, and increase the risk of injury when you push yourself too hard.

Thus stretching to increase your flexibility is a critical part of any cardio or weight training regimen. Muscles fully develop with contracting (lifting) and lengthening (stretching). Unless you want short, stocky muscles, then you will need to stretch!

8 Exercises for Increasing Flexibility

1. When your muscles are warm it is time to stretch!

Stretch whenever you can. If you ran up a few flights of stairs at work, stretch your legs while sitting back at the desk. Of course, stretch thoroughly after every single workout, and be sure to include the whole body, regardless of what muscle group was worked that day.

2. Get up to stretch after every hour of sitting!

Sitting causes spinal compression, hunched shoulders, and tight legs. After every hour of sitting down, stand up to stretch for at least 1-2 minutes. Reach up, bend down, stretch forward, back and side to side.

3. Practice static stretching!

Hold stretches with no rocking or bouncing for 15-30 seconds and repeat each two to three times. Breath deeply through the nose and on every exhalation, try to lengthen the stretch a little more.

4. Take a yoga class for fun!

You can't do much better than yoga in terms of a long, deep stretching session. Plus get the benefit of a full body strength and balance workout.

5. Learn to do the splits!

Ever wanted to do the splits? Anyone can learn how to do the splits. It is actually a lot easier to learn than most people think. Men, overweight people, even the elderly can easily learn to do the splits.


6. Bufferfly stretches are fun and easy!

You probably already know how to do these. They're very easy to learn so why not do them regularly?

Daily butterfly stretches increase flexibility in your inner and outer thighs, making the splits easier.

To perform a butterfly split, sit with your knees bent and tilted out so that each knee forms a "V" to the side. Touch your feet together and place your hands on your feet to remain balanced. Pull your feet in toward your groin and hold the stretch. To deepen the stretch, extend your knees toward the ground slowly and hold the stretch for 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times daily. As the exercise becomes easier, pull your feet in closer to your groin. Your back should remain straight during this stretch.

7. Keep trying new things and keep at it!
While I must stress that you avoid any activities that might injure yourself, trying new stretches will also boost your flexibility progress over time. Use your common sense to determine which stretches work for you and which ones you would rather not do because you know you are not ready yet.

When it comes to trying new stretches you will not notice physical results quickly - stretching results always takes a lot of time - but you will feel amazing over time and that will be the biggest reward when you don't feel as much pain in your muscles and joints as you used to! It's common to think that stretching is boring but once you get into a routine you will wonder how you lived before feeling limber, with a skip in your step every day.

Why Good Posture Matters

Bad posture hurts your muscles and harms your bone structure.

Good posture builds muscle and maintains bone structure.

But that isn't the end of it. Posture also effects your quality of sleep, eating habits, overall fitness, ability to perform a variety of exercises, and your overall health.

Now how do you improve your posture?

Start by ridding yourself of bad habits like slouching while you sit, leaning forward or backwards too much. Next do stretches every day to improve your flexibility. Lastly, yoga and abdominal exercises will also help to improve your posture - but general exercise will help too.


How to do the Splits

Flexibility training isn't something that most people do. But it is something I would personally would like to do more.

Keeping in mind that I have no background in dancing, gymnastics or acrobatics. I am more or less just an average guy who is into exercising a lot. (Although I do admit I sit cross-legged quite a bit so I might have a slight advantage.)

Thus learning how to do the splits is a technical challenge for anyone who wants to practice stretching and flexibility exercises.

MYTH BUSTING

#1. The first thing I want to do is point out that ANYONE can do the splits if they practice flexibility exercises - even men and overweight people. Flexibility has very little to do with what sex you are or what size you are. It has nothing to do with age either. For this reason I have chosen a variety of images which disprove any myths you might have about flexibility. Sex, age, size, race, etc have nothing to do with your ability to be flexible. It is purely a matter of stretching exercises.

93-year-old woman doing the splits.
#2. Learning to do the splits doesn't take as long as you think. It should take roughly one to three months to reach the point where YOU can do the splits. But you will need to be diligent about doing your stretching exercises every day and I do mean EVERY DAY.

#3. You might think "Oh yes, men can do the splits, but they'd have to be a martial artists already or a really good athlete who is already super flexible to do the splits." Yes, it is true, many martial artists and athletes can do the splits - but only because they have trained themselves to do them. You have to get away from that way of thinking where you think A (natural ability) causes B (flexibility), when in reality it is C (practice, practice, practice) that is responsible for improved flexibility. You might also think that men with lots of muscle and / or fat cannot do the splits. In which case I invite you to browse the various photos on this page.

Man doing the splits
Overweight Older Man doing the Splits
Now that I have proven how it can actually be done lets get down to what exactly is the splits.

THE SPLITS - DEFINITION

A split is a stretch that completely extends the legs so that they and the base of the torso are flat on the ground. There are TWO kinds of splits. You can do a split with your torso facing over one leg - known as a Side Split - or with your torso facing forward - a Front Split.

Usually people start by learning front splits because it is slightly easier and takes less time to learn how to do them. The amount of time it takes you to learn to do a split depends upon your physical fitness, diet, metabolism, coordination, age and flexibility - but it is not impossible for you to learn regardless of any of those factors. Most people can build up to doing a front split in a month. If you have any injuries that effect your flexibility, consult your doctor before beginning training.

HOW TO TRAIN YOURSELF TO DO THE SPLITS


#1. DAILY BUTTERFLY STRETCHES

Perform daily butterfly stretches. These stretches increase flexibility in your inner and outer thighs, making the splits easier.

To perform a butterfly split, sit with your knees bent and tilted out so that each knee forms a "V" to the side. Touch your feet together and place your hands on your feet to remain balanced. Pull your feet in toward your groin and hold the stretch. To deepen the stretch, extend your knees toward the ground slowly and hold the stretch for 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times daily. As the exercise becomes easier, pull your feet in closer to your groin. Your back should remain straight during this stretch.

Remember to repeat daily! I know I am beating an old drum here, but remembering to do these stretches daily is a huge benefit to your ability to improve your flexibility.

#2. STRETCH YOUR KNEES AND LEGS DAILY

Stretch your knees and legs daily. While kneeling, put one foot in front of you on a mat, stool or other sturdy item elevated a foot off the ground. Your knee should be bent at 90 degrees. Extend your other leg back behind you. Then push your hips forward until you feel your muscles stretching. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat 5 times daily.

#3. STANDING LEG STRETCHES

Stretch your legs while standing. This helps improve balance and flexibility. While standing place one foot in front of you on a mat or other sturdy item about a foot off of the floor. Keep your back foot flat on the ground. Then extend your arms forward to touch the toes of the front foot and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat the stretch on the other side. Repeat 10 times each side every day. However many flexibility experts say that the more frequently you perform this stretch, the better your balance and flexibility will become - so in theory you could do a lot more than 10 per day. However if you start to feel any extreme pain I recommend stopping immediately.

#4. ATTEMPT TO DO THE SPLITS

Don't expect to do the splits the first time or even the 20th day or the 30th day. Many people can do them by day 30, but lets pretend for a moment that you skipped doing your stretching exercises for a few days then you will have slower results.

Other factors such as diet, metabolism, etc will slow you down a bit, but basically anyone should be able to do the splits by day 90 of doing the stretches.

During your attempt stand up and spread your legs slowly to the ground into a split while supporting yourself using a stable chair or ballet barre. Go down as far as you can without experiencing pain or shaking legs. Hold the position for three to five seconds and repeat the stretch five times daily. This stretch (even if you fail) helps you improve muscle memory, flexibility and balance, all of which are important for splits. You will gradually be able to lower yourself closer and closer to a split.

It just takes time and daily practice.

CONCLUSIONS

If you were paying attention and doing some math you may have noticed it only requires 5 + 10 + (10 x 2) + 5 stretches each day to do the splits. It is a total of 40 stretches per day. Takes you about 5 to 10 minutes per day.

But the results are amazing regardless of what size or shape you are.

With time you could even do super flexible things you normally expect of dancers and gymnasts.

Don't think that just because they are young and skinny that you can't do it. You can. It just takes time, practice, diligence, a little willpower and 40 stretches per day.


Just 40 stretches per day.



Overweight Man doing the Splits
Elderly Woman doing the Splits
Bodybuilder doing the Splits

8 Fun Football Exercises - Useful for Everyone

You don't have to play football to enjoy football exercises. Indeed most football exercises are actually stretches or cardio. A few are even bodyweight exercises.

Some of them are also ab workouts and/or work your obliques (side muscles). The end result is that football exercises are both versatile and inexpensive (you can buy a football for approx. $15 to $20).

So find yourself a clear space to exercise, get out your football [although in theory, any large ball will do - basketball, soccer ball, volleyball, etc.] and get ready for some exercises.

#1. Twists

Standing with two feet apart hold the football in front of you with both hands. Without moving your hips or legs, twist your upper torso as far to the right as you can. While you do so maintain arm pressure on the football in front of you. Do the same again to the left. Repeat 100 times.

This is my personal favourite of all my football exercises. Once you get good at it you can go really fast and it ends up being really exhilarating. It stretches and works the obliques and your lower back muscles.

#2. Squat Jumps

Holding the football in front of you and maintaining your torso in an upward position lower yourself into a squatting position. Then jump upwards, raising the football high above your head. Repeat 20 times.

#3. Forward + Backwards Bends and Sides

Standing with your feet apart place the football behind your head and hold it in place with both hands. Lean forward like you are doing a situp. Then do the same but lean backwards. Next lean to the right as far as you dare, then the left. Repeat 20 times.

#4. Knee Bumps

Holding the ball in front in front of you with both hands, raise your right knee until it is just below the football. Next in one swift motion lower your right knee and raise your left knee in a jump and try to bump the football out of your hands. (You may feel like you are doing that kick from the 1st Karate Kid movie.) With your hands try to with-strain the ball as best you can. Repeat 20 times.

#5. Squeezes

This exercise is easy. Just squeeze the football between both hands and move from side to side, squeezing as hard as you can, alternating which arm you are pushing the most with. Continue this exercise for 2 minutes.

#6. Toss and Catch

Catching a football requires good hand-eye coordination and also muscle coordination / balance. Simply tossing a football in the air and catching it with one or both hands is good exercise. Try to alternate which hands you throw and catch with. Throw and catch 100 times.

#7. Football Situps

Sit and balance yourself on top of your football. Place your feet out in front of you and lean backwards about 45 degrees. Then lean forward you are doing a situp, but without falling off the football. I admit this is nearly identical to using a standard exercise ball, but with a football it is lower to the ground and provides less stability due to it shape, thus you will need to pay attention to you balance. Try not to fall off it. :)

#8. Circle Passing

Pass the football behind your back from your left hand to your right hand, then in front of you from right to left, completing a circular motion. Repeat 50 times and then switch direction.


Better yet, find a friend or family member and go outside and throw the ball back and forth for an hour or so!

Mid Workout Stretching

Out of breath during your cardio or weightlifting workout?

Pause and do some stretches.

Why?

#1. Regular Stretching increases and maintains flexibility.

#2. It gives you a moment to catch your breath and recharge available energy in your blood.

#3. Stretching exercises smaller muscles that most people forget about, like your obliques (side muscles).

#4. Stretching reduces muscle tension. Ergo, less pain in your muscles and joints.

#5. It also improves your muscular coordination.

#6. Improves balance.

#7. Exercises core muscles.

#8. Increases circulation and energy levels.

#9. Prevents sports injuries if done properly and regularly.

#10. Decreases the likelihood of injuries as you get older (eg. falls and breaking your hip).

#11. Mid exercise and post exercise Stretching helps with muscle recovery and helps condition your tendons/muscles.

#12. Because sometimes it just feels really good to have a good stretch!
Looking to sign up for archery lessons, boxing lessons, swimming lessons, ice skating lessons or personal training sessions? Start by emailing cardiotrek@gmail.com and lets talk fitness!

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