Joint and muscle flexibility decreases with age. Some people wake up in the morning with a stiff body after a good night's sleep, some also experience shoulder or back pain, and they can no longer even raise their arms high as usual without feeling pain. The good news is that you can restore the flexibility of your body as it was when you were younger by stretching your muscles and yourself every day. Stretching exercises will improve blood circulation, maintain health, increase endurance, prevent injury, arthritis, and osteoporosis.
Method 1 of 3: Flexing Your Body through Stretching Exercises
Step 1. Stretch with a new technique
The stretching technique that has been suggested so far, namely the static stretching technique, actually does not improve the flexibility of the body. Static stretching is done in a standing position while stretching the muscles or joints as much as possible and not moving for a few seconds. This is a great way to stretch certain muscles and provide some temporary comfort, but the results don't last long. Static stretching will create tension like someone who tensed during a car accident so that muscles and joints are more easily injured.
- Instead of doing static stretching by overstretching your muscles, start practicing stretching techniques that are relaxing. When a car accident occurs, a body that is in a tense state tends to suffer more severe injuries than a body that is relaxed. The same goes for stretching.
- Find a comfortable position to stretch and then stretch the muscles according to your ability. During your workout, you should stay focused and calm without overstretching your muscles or joints.
Step 2. Warm up before practicing stretching
Many experts believe that muscles that are stretched without warming up are more likely to be injured or sore. Perform stretches as part of an exercise routine in the following order:
- Start with light aerobic exercise, for example: brisk walking.
- Once your heart rate and temperature have slightly increased, do some big muscle stretches.
- Continue the exercise with aerobic exercise, for example: running or jumping rope.
- Cool down before ending your workout, for example: take a brisk walk then take a leisurely walk.
Step 3. Practice stretching daily or at least 6 times/week
Sit ups, crunches, and push ups do not stretch the body, but the exercise program must be balanced by working the other muscles in the same joint. Stretch each muscle for at least 20 seconds as often as possible each day or several times a week.
- Stretch when you are not doing other fitness exercises, but don't feel pressured if you haven't had time to train because research shows that the ideal stretching exercise is 6x/week, but 3-4x/week is still beneficial.
- Stretching exercises should be done when you wake up in the morning and as a last activity before going to bed at night. Take time to stretch the 10 major muscle groups: the quadriceps in the quadriceps, the hamstrings in the hamstrings, the calves, chest, back (including the trapezius muscle between the shoulder blades), shoulders, triceps in the forearms behind, biceps in the forearms., forearms, and abdomen.
Step 4. Don't stretch so deep that it's uncomfortable
Instead of choosing a difficult posture, do stretches that you can do comfortably while sitting, chatting, or watching TV. Each time you stretch a specific muscle, hold on for 30-60 seconds while breathing normally. If you experience pain or difficulty in normal breathing during stretching, this means that you are training beyond your capabilities.
You don't have to stay still while holding stretches in certain postures because you don't have to keep your balance! Move slightly left or right while feeling the stretched body part. If needed, play quiet music and then move your body slowly to the beat of the music
Method 2 of 3: Improving Flexibility by Practicing Yoga
Step 1. Start practicing yoga
Yoga practice that is done every day will increase the strength and flexibility of the body. Many yoga postures are beneficial for flexing muscles and joints if done regularly. Consider your fitness when choosing a yoga class and determine the intensity of your workout as needed. All yoga exercises can improve flexibility.
Soldier posture and forward bending can be done according to the ability and flexibility of each body. However, your flexibility will increase little by little each time you train. The changes are not noticeable if you are just starting to train, but your body will become more flexible if you practice regularly
Step 2. Do some yoga postures every day
Take a few minutes to increase flexibility. While doing a certain posture, hold on for 5-10 breaths before moving on to the next posture.
- Do the mountain posture. Start the exercise by standing straight with your feet together (you can move your feet hip-width apart if it's more comfortable), straighten your arms at your sides, point your fingers on the floor, and close your eyes. While this posture is easy to do, standing up straight can stretch your back, shoulders, and arms.
- Sit cross-legged on the floor to do the child's posture. After kneeling, do a prostrate posture while extending both arms in front and stay in this position for as long as you feel comfortable while continuing to breathe.
- Do the hill posture. From the child's posture, return to your knees without moving your palms. Spread your feet hip-width apart and place your toes on the floor. Slowly try to straighten your knees while pressing your heels into the floor so that your body forms an upside-down V. If your hamstrings and calves feel uncomfortable when you straighten your knees, you can keep your knees bent and on your tiptoes.
Step 3. Increase the flexibility of certain body parts
If you want to increase your flexibility with a specific target, such as doing splits or touching your toes, do intensive yoga practice. Join a yoga class or practice following guided videos to learn more postures to make your body more flexible.
Currently, yoga is quite popular because there are many fitness programs and videos on how to practice yoga on the internet that can be downloaded for free. Find an exercise program that suits your abilities. For beginners, look for guide videos with keywords "beginner flexibility yoga" or "advanced flexibility yoga" if you've been practicing a lot
Step 4. Learn breathing techniques
One of the benefits of yoga is that it relaxes the body and mind by practicing proper breathing techniques. Breathing properly during yoga practice (and doing other stretches) will increase flexibility of the body and provide oxygen to the muscles through concentration of mind.
- To give a clearer picture, straighten both arms up as high as possible and then take a deep breath. Watch your arms lengthen on their own as you inhale.
- As you practice stretching, inhale through your nose and then exhale through your mouth while holding the position for a few seconds. When you inhale, the abdominal cavity must also expand, not the chest.
Method 3 of 3: Flexing Specific Muscle Groups
Step 1. Increase shoulder flexibility
To make the shoulder muscles more flexible, stretch both shoulders and chest muscles opposite the shoulder.
- Stretch your chest muscles by bringing your fingers together on your back while straightening your arms. Maintain this posture for 10-20 seconds while trying to raise your palms for a deeper stretch.
- To stretch your right shoulder, cross your right arm in front of your chest while pressing your right elbow against your chest with your left hand. Maintain this posture for at least 20 seconds as long as there is no pain. Release slowly and stretch your left shoulder in the same way. Do this exercise every day.
Step 2. Increase hamstring flexibility
The hamstring muscles are very easy to injure, so stretch after a proper warm-up.
- Sit on the floor straightening one leg and bending the other leg. Work on reaching your straightened toes to stretch your hamstring muscles as much as you can. Hold this position for 10 seconds and then repeat the same movement with the other leg.
- Stretch with the same technique while standing. Set your right foot on a bench or chair and then reach your left foot as much as you can. Repeat the same movement with the other leg.
Step 3. Focus on exercises to flex your back
Train the body in 2 parts, namely the dorsal (back) and ventral (front) limited to the hips and spine.
- To work your back, focus on stretching your hips and hamstrings while trying to stretch your back (which can cause injury if you overdo it). Start practicing from a lying position on your back. Bring your knees to your chest in a bent position and bring your forehead to your knees.
- To work the front, do the cobra pose to stretch your abs and hip flexors.
Step 4. Stretch the leg muscles
For runners or cycling enthusiasts, leg stretching is necessary by doing the following movements:
Sit on the floor trying to straighten your legs. Bring your chest to your thighs as much as you can while straightening your back. Don't bend your neck to bring your face to your knees, but try to look at your toes to stretch your neck muscles. If this posture makes your neck sore, look at your knees and stretch gently. While still sitting, cross your right leg over your left leg a few times and then do the same with the other leg
- Don't overstretch your muscles. If you feel pain, relax first and then repeat again according to ability.
- Stretching exercises will reduce the risk of injury during exercise and increase muscle strength, even if only slightly.
- Lifting weights makes muscles shorter and stiffer, so make it a habit to stretch before and after lifting weights.
- If you're working out at the gym with a professional trainer, ask how to do the splits while standing.
- For dancers, join a beginner acrobatics group or do fitness exercises that combine strengthening, aerobic, endurance, and stretching exercises.