When you’re as flexible as you should be, it means you can take advantage of your full range of motion. And with greater flexibility comes a variety of health benefits, like better posture and balance, fewer muscle injuries, and better physical performance and strength. But for most of us, we need baby steps and reasonable goals for becoming more flexible. So if becoming a contortionist isn’t really your goal – but being more flexible is – then we have some simple steps you can take to help you get there.
Warm up first. Before you stretch, you should warm up the muscles you plan to stretch so that they don’t become injured. Muscle aches and strains are a common reason many people visit a doctor and even come to Laredo ER. And a common cause is tight muscles that aren’t properly warmed up and then stretched for exercise and other physical activity.
Stretch evenly, actively, and gently. This means making sure to stretch both sides of your body the same way for the same amount of time and using a dynamic stretching routine that keeps your body in motion throughout the stretch. These include stretching exercises that focus on muscle groups you’ll be working out. For example, if you’ll be playing baseball, tennis, or any sport that requires a wide range of upper body motion, be sure to do some shoulder exercises like shoulder rolls. When you stretch, do it gently, without bouncing, which can cause injury to muscles.
Adjust your diet. Be sure to get plenty of water every day to keep your muscles, as well as your entire body, hydrated and at their best. Eating high-quality protein after exercise can help alleviate joint pain and help in healing so that you’re better able to keep up your active lifestyle.
Use heat. Whether you love indulging in a warm bath or shower or using a heating pad, these ways of applying heat are natural muscle relaxers, helping you to maintain your flexibility.
Keep going. The key is to make small steps so that you become more and more flexible over time.Find an activity that promotes flexibility and that you enjoy so that you’ll stick with it. Some favorites include activities like yoga, tai chi, and Pilates. And remember that even if you don’t have access to a specialty gym, you can learn some basics online for any one of these practices. Most importantly, remember that becoming more flexible is a process, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Overstretching your muscles to the point of pain can mean that you’ve suffered a muscle strain, sprain, or tear – something we see a lot of at Laredo ER. But working gently and persistently toward a more flexible you can help you avoid injury and actually succeed in becoming more flexible. It just takes patience.