Ten Best Workouts to Improve Your Flexibility
Hailey Andrew Physical Therapist Assistant/Trainer Mind Body Burn
The best exercises to improve your flexibility are arguably the most dynamic exercises. Working out helps us gain mobility but to make significant gains that will also prepare us well for our lifts and workout, we must stretch. Prior to exercise, the best way to increase your mobility is to perform dynamic stretches in order to stimulate your tendinous and muscle reflexes that aid in proprioception (recognition of where your body is in space). This prevents injury by increasing your flexibility for upper and lower body and gets your heart pumping blood.
Here’s a list of 5 to perform prior to working out:
1. World’s Greatest Stretch- Walk forward with hands to plank position. Drive one knee forward through legs. Reach same side arm upward to sky keeping other hand planted. After reaching, reach and twist through opposite arm and repeat reaching. Switch sides and repeat.
a. To prevent injury: Don’t hunch upper back or sway lower back. Keep back as flat as possible. When finished roll up slowly.
2. Frankenstein’s- While walking, reach opposite arm to opposite leg kicking out straight in front of your body. Keep knees as straight as possible.
a. To prevent injury: Begin slow and monitor how hamstrings and back feel as you kick forward and reach.
3. 3 Directional Hip Swings- Hold onto a railing or something sturdy at hip height. Swing straight leg forward and back using the hip as a hinge. Swing leg side to side cross in front of body and out to side.
a. To prevent injury: Keep core engaged by imagining drawing belly button up and back to spine and not rotating trunk.
4. 90-90’s- Sit with knees bent in front of you about hip width apart. Rotate both knees to one side flattening them to the ground and sit forward with torso. Rotate to opposite side and repeat.
a. To prevent injury: Keep trunk in an upright posture and squeeze shoulder blades back with shoulders down in order to protect spine.
5. Lateral Lunge Hip Opener- Plant one heel and lunge to the side slowly lowering clear to the ground turning your bent knee inward to the ground as well. Rise back up and repeat. (Can use Kettlebell as counterweight).
a. To prevent injury: Push glutes out behind you and rotate feet with knee rotation to not aggravate major ligaments in the knees.
Following your workout, static stretching can help relax muscles that have tightened up and release tension when help for about 45 seconds to a minute.
1. Figure 4 Forward Fold- Cross one leg in front of body on mat. Forward fold and reach both hands outward trying to flatten hip to mat.
a. To prevent injury: If it strains too much to reach forward, simply lean.
2. Half Frog- In a knee planted position, lift back leg up in a bent position held by same side hand. Push/lift heel towards glutes.
a. To prevent injury: lean into stretch and make sure the knee on the ground is padded or supported.
3. Lizard Pose- Lunge forward with a flat back and place both elbows on the ground with bent leg out to side of arms. Press straightened leg down into mat with top of foot resting on ground as well.
a. To prevent injury: Slowly lower into position and if unable, stay up on hand but try to maintain bent knee on outside of arms.
4. Modified Back Bends- Using a yoga wheel or yoga ball, lay on your back pushing back towards the floor planting hands on the ground. Allow head and neck to follow.
a. To prevent injury: Select a smaller ball if new to this position and perform very slowly or have a spotter.
5. Door Frame Hangs- place hands on door frame, railing, or other sturdy surface and situate feet close to door frame. Push back hips and allow back to slowly release as you hold a V position while standing.
a. To prevent injury: Make sure you can hold the surface tight and walk hands either up or down surface to target sore area of back and shoulders.