Flexibility Training: 12 Essential Stretches

These flexibility exercises and stretches will help you improve your flexibility and mobility
Flexibility exercises are one of four types of exercise that exist, along with strength, balance, and endurance training.

 

Flexibility exercises are one of four types of exercise that exist, along with strength, balance, and endurance training. These four types of exercises should be included in everyone's healthy exercise routine.

Flexibility exercises and stretching do not have to focus only on one part of the body, since it is best to combine them and perform a different variety of exercises, for example for the back, for joint mobility,  and much more. 

In this article, we aim to share 12 essential flexibility exercises and stretches to improve your physical condition or warm up before exercising.

Why should we do flexibility exercises?

Flexibility exercises stretch the muscles and can help our body stay flexible. It is possible that these exercises do not improve our strength, but being flexible gives us more freedom of movement to perform our daily activities. It can also help us avoid discomfort when we are sitting for a long period of time (such as a long meeting or an airplane flight).

The best time to stretch is when our muscles are hot, so we can achieve a longer stretch without generating tension or pain. If we only want to do exercises to improve flexibility, we have to warm up before, for example by walking for a few minutes. If we are doing resistance or strength exercises, we have to perform the stretching afterward, not before.

It is recommended to do each flexibility exercise 3 to 5 times during each session. We always have to stretch slowly and gently into the desired position, as far as it is comfortable without pain. If we are not used to stretching, we should keep stretching at about 10 seconds per movement. The more often we stretch, the easier it will become to perform the flexibility exercises, getting to comfortably maintain each stretch for 30 seconds.

Flexibility exercises for the back

Daily activities can often cause tension in the muscles of the back. Over time, this can cause significant back pain and increase the risk of injury to it.

Below we explain how to perform exercises for the back to improve flexibility and to prevent back pain.

1. Knees to chest

We lie on our backs with our knees bent and feet flat on the floor. We place our hands on the back of the thighs and raise our legs to the chest. We pull until we notice a gentle stretch. Maintain for 15 seconds and then return to the initial position and repeat 9 more times.

2. Spinning stretch

We lay on our backs with our knees bent and feet resting on the ground.

Keeping the back on the ground, we rotate the hips to the left, lowering the legs to the ground, until we notice a gentle stretch. Keep for 15 seconds. We return to the initial position and repeat 9 times more. Then we repeat the whole sequence with the right leg.

3. Back bridge stretch

We lie face down and lean on our elbows. We begin to raise the elbows, stretching the back. We continue raising the elbows until we feel a gentle stretch. We keep for 15 seconds. We return to the initial position and repeat 9 times more.

Flexibility exercises and stretching

 

Joint mobility exercises

Flexibility is the ability of our joints to move through their full range of motion without pain or stiffness. It also refers to the flexibility of the muscles that support the joints. Flexible muscles and tendons allow for a greater range of motion during our daily activities.

Below we present some joint mobility exercises to improve the flexibility of your joints:

4. Ankle mobility

The good mobility of the ankle contributes to a better balance, fewer falls and better performance in activities such as squats and deadlifts.

We stand in front of a wall and place our hands on it to support us. Slowly we move forward on the toes of our feet, standing on tiptoe. Slowly, we lie on our heels, raising our toes from the floor. We repeat 10 times.

5. Hip opening stretches

To work on the flexibility of the hip, we stand with our feet hip-width apart. We step forward with the right leg, place the foot firmly on the floor and raise the left knee to the chest. While standing on one leg, we make a circle with the knee, rotating it towards our body and then to the side.

6. Windmills

Another flexibility exercise to improve joint mobility is to make windmills. To do this we lie on the ground on our side. We bend the knees and the hips until they pass 90 degrees, resting the knees on the ground. We stretch the lower leg and rest the upper leg on a foam roller or towel without changing position.

We extend both arms along the ground, in front of our body, palms together, at shoulder height. We slowly raise the upper arm and turn it towards you, opening the chest towards the ceiling and trying to leave the arms wide open. We keep this position for 3 seconds and return to the starting position. We repeat 5 times on each side.

Flexibility exercises and stretching
 

Psoas muscle stretching

Problems with the psoas muscle can manifest in the form of hip pain, groin pain, and lower back discomfort. Fortunately, by stretching for the psoas muscle, we can help stabilize the spine and alleviate these problems.

We tell you what stretching exercises for the psoas you have to perform to keep this muscle in shape:

7. Stretching of lying psoas

We lie on the floor on our backs with our legs straight and straight. We place a roller under the lumbar area. Bend the right leg, while keeping the other extended. We pull it gently with our hands back until we feel a stretch in the hip. We keep for 30 seconds and return to the initial position. We change sides and perform 3 repetitions on each side.

8. Lunge

Take a step forward with your right leg and keep your knee and left leg in contact with the ground. Keep your back straight and your pelvis stretch forward until you feel a stretch in your left hip. Hold this stretch for 15 seconds, and then repeat 3 times. Do it again with the other leg.

9. Bridge

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, separated at hip height. Lift the hip off the floor, pressing the pubic bones up. Hold the posture for 20-30 seconds, and then repeat 2 more times.

Calf stretches

If you're struggling with tense calf muscles, it is important to know what the source is and thus perform the best stretches. Below, we explain some exercises to stretch the calves: 

10. Heel lift

We stand up and raise one leg, squeezing the calf of the other leg and keeping it on the ground. If we want to increase the effort, we stand on the edge of a step, raise one leg and lower the heel of the other as much as we can. We hold 3 seconds.

11. Toe lift

We stand up and lift the front part of the foot, shifting all the body weight to the heels, which are on the ground. It is important to contract the tibialis anterior during the elevation of the tips of the feet. We hold for 3 seconds.

12. Squat heels lifts

We squat and lean on a chair. We raise the heels, shifting all the body weight in the tips of the feet and immediately we lower them. We hold for a few seconds.

Check out the original article: Ejercicios de flexibilidad: 12 estiramientos y juegos at viviendolasalud.com
 

References:

Esquerdo, Ó. M. (2009). Enciclopedia de ejercicios de estiramientos. Editorial Pila Teleña.

Fuentes, P. C., Barba, M. M. C. Y., Matamoros, D. C., & Hervías, M. F. (2006). Los efectos de los estiramientos musculares:¿ qué sabemos realmente?. Revista Iberoamericana de Fisioterapia y Kinesiología, 9(1), 36-44.

Norris, C. M. (2007). GUÍA COMPLETA DE LOS ESTIRAMIENTOS, LA. Editorial Paidotribo.

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