Are you one of those people who can curl 35s or run a full marathon, but can't touch your toes to save your life? It's okay. I've been there. You're not stuck in this place. You CAN improve your flexibility with practice.
And I'm here to help! I recently restarted my 100-Day Stretching Challenge to continue improving my flexibility. You're more than welcome to join me!
Either way, here are my top 5 tips for improving your flexibility:
Your body needs water. It needs it to stay alive, to workout, and to be flexible. Make sure you hydrate appropriately (I recommend at least 80oz of water every day). Don't believe that it makes a difference with flexibility? Experiment with it yourself. I'm confident that you will notice a difference in both your energy and your flexility when your body is hydrated. Just do it.
2. Warm Up
Before you pull a muscle sliding into the splits cold, take some time to warm up. I like to be efficient and just stretch after my workouts (that way my body is already warm, and I don't have to warm up again for stretching). If you like to stretch first thing in the morning, just do some burpees or jumping jacks or something so that you break a little bit of a sweat. This will help to get you deeper into your stretches without pulling something.
Still, you should take it slow with your stretches. Do some easy preparatory stretches before trying an extreme stretch like wheel pose or the splits. Circle your neck, roll your shoulders, do a light back bend, do some lunges, whatever gets you moving towards your destination pose.
Breathe into your stretches, and breathe deeply. Keep the oxygen coming, you need it while you are stretching. Also, deep breathing will help you to relax, which will in turn help your muscles to relax.
4. Be Consistent
Stretching one day and then not stretching again for a month won't increase your flexibility in any noticeable way. Try stretching every day for 10 minutes. If you miss a day, don't beat yourself up. Just get back into it the next day.
5. Keep it Up
I've noticed that I can lose my flexibility really quickly when I stop stretching for a while. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning found that you people lose about 7 percent of hip flexibility after not stretching for a month. That's significant!
When you work really hard to increase your flexibility, you don't want to throw all of that away. Continue to stretch a couple times a week to maintain your flexibility.