We often spend the bulk of our workout time focusing on fitness and strength. However, few of us ever think about the other essential piece of a well-rounded fitness routine: flexibility training. If you’re like me and on the go, let’s focus on flexibility training exercises that you can do anywhere.
Stretching may not be the most exciting part of working out, but doing flexibility work is just as important for a well-rounded fitness routine as strength and cardio work. Incorporating stretching exercises into your workout schedule will help you improve flexibility, reduce tightness, and make your workouts more efficient and safe.
Also, when your muscles are loose and stretchy, they’re less restricted. This allows you to move them wider in a full range of motion. For example, a greater range of motion in your hips and knees will allow you to sink deeper into a squat. Ultimately, a greater range of motion will allow you to do more exercises—and do them properly.
In addition to these physical benefits, flexibility training can improve mood by releasing muscle tension and facilitating relaxation. For best results, do some form of flexibility training at least two to three days per week. Below are a few flexibility training exercises to get you started, and all you’ll need is a yoga or exercise mat.
If you’re well-versed in yoga, this should be familiar. This will feel great on your back and Yoga Journal recommends doing at least 3-5 reps to get a nice stretch.
Start on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Inhale and arch your spine so the belly sinks down while your face and tailbone lift upwards. (This is Cow Pose.) Then, exhale and push into your hands and knees to round your spine while tucking your chin into your chest. (This is the Cat Pose.)
This resistance exercise is popular for its ability to strengthen your back, hips, and legs while improving mobility and stability.
Kneel on the left leg, placing the right leg forward at a right angle. Lunge forward, keeping the back straight. Stretch should be felt on the left groin. Hold for five seconds and then repeat three to six times. Now repeat on the opposite leg. Working one leg at a time causes your body to be less stable, which forces your spine and core to work harder to stay balanced.
Neck and Shoulder Release
Now that we’ve focused on our back and legs, let’s focus on our neck and shoulders. Tight shoulders can cause pain or stiffness in your neck, back, and upper body, and limit your daily activities.
Try sitting up straight with your shoulders relaxed. Keep your tummy and back muscles loosely pulled in to engage your core. Now slowly drop your right ear to your right shoulder, as far as comfortable, feeling the stretch on the side of the neck. Push the fingers of your left hand towards the floor, extending the stretch into the top of your shoulder, and hold for 30 seconds.
Did these flexibility training exercises work for you? Is there one that you recommend? Please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re curious about more, read 7 Morning Stretches to Kickstart Your Day. Also, please be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to receive more great tips straight to your inbox.