The word "flexibility" can be defined as the range of motion of the joint or the length of the ligaments and tendons that enclose the joint. Stretching is one way to stretch your body, but it doesn't work if you just stretch. You need to practice yoga or pilates and take care of your health. Eating nutritious foods and drinking water as needed is beneficial to increase body flexibility.
Method 1 of 3: Stretching Regularly
Step 1. Ask a professional fitness trainer for guidance
Before practicing stretching, it's a good idea to seek advice from a fitness trainer or exercise instructor. Make sure you know the correct posture to practice stretching even if it's only one practice with a professional trainer at the studio or gym.
- A professional fitness trainer is able to determine your level of flexibility and range of motion and then teach you stretching exercises that suit your needs and level of flexibility.
- Follow a program of stretching or flexibility training after searching for information at the nearest fitness center, self-defense practice, or yoga studio.
Step 2. Get in the habit of warming up before practicing stretching
The muscle can be sprained or seriously injured if you stretch while the muscle is still stiff. Ideally, you should practice stretching after each workout. Warm Up Exercises Before Stretching
Light aerobic exercise.
Walk or jog 5-10 minutes.
Dynamic light stretch.
For example, lunges, twisting your arms (making big circles back and forth with your arms), or touching your toes. Don't do static postures for too long.
While lying down, place the Styrofoam tube under your back, buttocks, hamstrings, calves, and hip flexors and move up and down.
Step 3. Perform arm and shoulder stretches
Begin the exercise standing or sitting on the edge of an immovable chair. Make sure you are standing or sitting with the correct posture. Straighten your back in a neutral condition and then pull your shoulders back slightly so that your shoulder blades are in line with your spine.
- Straighten the right arm horizontally in front of the chest and press the upper arm (slightly above the elbow) with the left hand until the muscle is stretched. Do not press the upper arm so tightly that it feels uncomfortable. Hold for 5 seconds while breathing deeply and then release. Do the same movement by straightening the left arm in front of the chest.
- Straighten your right arm up and bend your right elbow so that your right palm is behind your head. Hold the fingers of the right hand from below with the left hand as much as you can. If not, hold your right elbow with your left hand and pull it down until you feel a stretch in the right triceps muscle. Hold for 5 seconds then slowly release. Lower both arms and then do the same movement by straightening the left arm up.
Step 4. Do the bridge posture to stretch your back
The bridge posture is useful for stretching muscles throughout the body, especially the back, chest, legs, and core muscles. Begin the exercise by lying on your back on the floor with your knees bent 90° and your feet on the floor.
- Press your arms and palms against the mat at your sides and lift your hips until your body looks like a bridge and your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold for 5-10 seconds while breathing deeply and then slowly lower your hips to the floor. Do this movement 3-5 times.
- If you want to practice with a more challenging posture, do the bridge posture and then straighten your left leg up. Lower your left leg to the floor then straighten your right leg up.
Step 5. Do the butterfly posture
This posture is useful for flexing the buttocks and thigh muscles and relaxing the neck and back. Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you.
- Bend your knees and bring your feet together so that they touch each other. Hold the back of the foot and bring the chest to the sole of the foot while exhaling. Make sure you activate your core muscles, straighten your back, pull your shoulders back so you don't slouch.
- Lower your body to the floor as far as you can while trying to bring your chest to the soles of your feet. Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes while breathing deeply.
Step 6. Perform the twisting posture while sitting
Straighten both legs forward and then close. Activate your core muscles and straighten your body by pulling your shoulders back so that your shoulder blades are in line with your spine.
- While exhaling, make a twisting motion to the right at the waist and then move the left palm to the outside of the right thigh. Keep your back straight and twist at the waist without lifting your hips.
- After twisting, hold for 15-30 seconds then return to the starting position. Do the same movement by twisting to the left. Repeat this movement 2-4 times for each side in turn.
Step 7. Do the cobra posture
The cobra posture is common when practicing yoga and pilates to stretch the chest, back, and core muscles. Begin the exercise by lying face down on the floor while extending both legs.
- Bend your elbows and press your palms on the floor just below your shoulders. As you exhale, try to straighten your elbows while pulling your shoulders back and keeping your shoulders away from your ears.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together and press your stomach to the floor. Feel the stretch in your chest. Hold for 15-30 seconds then slowly lower your body back to the floor. Do this movement 3-5 times.
Step 8. Kneel on the floor to stretch your hip flexors and quadriceps
This move is the same as a lunge, but this time, straighten the back leg to stretch the hip flexors, hamstrings, and quadriceps. Begin the exercise by kneeling on the floor.
- Step your right foot forward so that your right knee is bent 90°. Move your right foot as far forward as you can so that you feel a stretch in your left hip. Make sure your right shin is perpendicular to the floor and your knee is directly above your ankle.
- Grasp your right knee and press your hips forward while breathing deeply. Hold for 15-30 seconds then return to the kneeling position. Do the same movement with the left foot forward.
Method 2 of 3: Practice Yoga or Pilates
Step 1. Focus on the breath
Breathing is a major aspect of practicing yoga and pilates. Start practicing yoga by taking a few minutes to meditate while focusing on your breath. If you practice yoga, take a deep breath in through your nose, hold it, exhale through your nose. If you practice Pilates, exhale through your mouth.
Step 2. Perform postures according to ability
When you start practicing yoga or Pilates, many people are not able to do full stretch postures. Use rolled up or folded blocks and towels as aids. This way, you will be able to do the posture correctly without straining yourself.
- For example, the posture of bending the body forward while standing is beneficial to increase the flexibility of the legs and back. At first, many people cannot put their palms on the floor next to the soles of their feet while doing this posture. However, you can place your palms on a block placed on the floor in front of your feet.
- The condition of the body will change every day if you are diligent in practicing. Be patient and don't give up if you are currently unable to do the postures that used to be easy to do.
Step 3. Flex your back in the cow cat posture
This yoga posture is perfect for beginners who want to increase back and core flexibility, calm the mind, and relax the body. Start the exercise by kneeling with your palms on the floor.
- Make sure your wrists are directly under your shoulders and your knees are directly under your hips. Straighten your back so that your body looks like a table. Pull your shoulders back away from your ears. Breathe deeply.
- As you inhale, arch your back down while looking up to stretch your chest muscles and hold for a moment.
- While exhaling, arch your back up while bringing your chin to your chest and slightly bending your shoulders.
- Repeat this movement for 5-10 breaths while harmonizing the breath and movement.
Step 4. Hold in a certain posture for several breaths
The most important aspect of practicing yoga or pilates to increase flexibility is maintaining the posture while breathing deeply to allow the muscles to stretch. This method is useful for relaxing your body and flexing your muscles so that you are able to stretch further.
As you inhale, imagine that you are gathering strength. As you exhale, release the tension from your body and try to stretch the muscles more intensively
Step 5. Perform continuous movement
In general, yoga and pilates postures can be arranged so that they become continuous movements in harmony with the breath. This movement is useful for increasing body flexibility and improving blood flow to the joints.
Focus on the breath as you practice. Take a break if you experience shortness of breath or hold your breath so often that it is difficult to move while continuing to breathe deeply
Step 6. Perform Surya namaskara
Surya namaskara is a vinyasa movement, which is a series of 12 yoga postures that are performed continuously while breathing deeply each time you move.
- Surya namaskara starts from a standing position which in yoga is usually called the mountain posture. While harmonizing the movement and the breath, do each posture while moving starting and ending with doing the mountain posture.
- Surya namaskara is also useful as an aerobic exercise or warm-up to stretch more intensively or increase flexibility.
Step 7. Practice regularly and consistently
Flexibility won't improve significantly if you don't train consistently. Therefore, set aside 3-4 days a week to practice, not every day.
Start exercising for 10-15 minutes a day 3-4 times a week. If the exercise feels good, do it more often, but be consistent
Method 3 of 3: Keeping Healthy
Step 1. Eat nutritious food
There are no studies that state that certain foods can increase flexibility. Make sure you always eat nutritious foods to maintain the health and strength of muscles and bones. Write down the daily menu for several weeks to find out what you are consuming.
- Eat foods made from fresh ingredients, rather than foods that have been preserved, frozen, and cooked.
- Make a menu list to make sure you eat balanced meals and measurable portions.
Step 2. Drink water as needed
Flexibility of the body must be supported by healthy muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Dehydrated muscles are not able to provide optimal performance because they are stiff and tense. You could be seriously injured if you try to stretch muscles that are stiff due to dehydration. Forming the Habit of Drinking Water
Healthy adult men should drink 3.7 liters of water per day. Healthy adult women should drink 2.7 liters of water per day.
Have water ready to drink at any time.
Put it in a bottle bag filled with water that can be refilled or place the bottle on your study/work desk so that the water is ready to drink anytime anywhere.
Set a cell phone alarm.
Use your phone to remind you to drink every hour.
Choose water-based soft drinks, such as plain tea, sparkling water, and mineral water.
Step 3. Go for massage therapy
Massage therapy is useful for relieving muscle stiffness and knots that occur due to overworked muscles, especially if you exercise at high intensity or do regular physical work. Over time, muscle stiffness and knots will significantly reduce body mobility.
- Use a styrofoam tube to massage your muscles, especially after exercising.
- Find a massage therapist and make an appointment so you can have massage therapy every few months. Apart from relaxing your body, this method makes your body more flexible as you want it to be.
Step 4. Take time to relax
The muscles will become tense when you are under stress so that the flexibility of the body is significantly reduced. If you don't have time to relax and unwind, any progress in flexibility that has been achieved will be lost in no time.
How to Relax
Start by meditating.
Get in the habit of meditating for 5-10 minutes a day then gradually increase the duration. By meditating regularly, the tension in the body will be reduced and the mind will be more focused.
Take time for a walk. Get used to walking leisurely every morning and evening.
reading books. Read your favorite book or novel while relaxing.
Listen to music. Choose relaxing music.