NOTE: this post contains affiliate links. If you click on them I will earn a commission for any purchase you may make. Thanks for helping to keep the lights on! Find our disclaimer here.
We work our hearts with cardio, we work our muscles with strength training and we fuel our bodies by eating properly. Adding flexibility exercises to our workout routine is not only a restorative change, it will also help with overall mobility and range of motion.
You don’t have to be a full on yogini to derive benefits from stretching. Unlike cardio and strength training, you can work on flexibility as a stand alone workout, fit it into your regular routine, or space the exercises out over the course of a day. The key is to learn how to do them in a safe manner. Once you start a routine, you should feel some benefit very quickly.
Stretching should feel good. If it hurts, reconsider the stretch you’re attempting. There are some conditions (sciatica for example) that can be made worse by improper stretching. Make sure to check with your doctor or other health care professional if you have any concerns about adding a flexibility routine to your fitness regimen. Most of us will get along fine following a DVD or downloaded routine.
The National Institute of Health suggests these exercises to help improve flexibility and range of motion from head to toe. Those of us who do a lot of sitting will appreciate the opportunity to take a break and do some of these exercises during the day. A few of them can even be performed in a chair. The simple stretches linked to above will provide relief from stiffness or improved mobility for many people when performed on a regular basis.
For all that I like to do yoga, I’ve never been able to progress much beyond an advanced beginner’s status; in part because I’ve lacked the necessary core strength and in part because I’m content to use yoga for stretching and relaxation. Learning yoga is almost like learning a new language, although you get familiar with the terminology quickly enough. If you’re not into yoga, don’t despair, I’ve found a few flexibility videos that come from other systems. Follow the links to learn more about them.
How’s your flexibility? Do you have pain in your hips or lower back? How about your neck and shoulders? If you do nothing else, give the simple exercises listed on the NIH website a try one or two days a week. Don’t overdo it and your body will thank you.