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Flexibility - An Ultimate Guide

Updated: Mar 8, 2023

Flexibility As We Age

Why do we lose flexibility as we age? It is part of the normal aging process. As we get older, to a certain extent, our body gradually dehydrates. Loss of flexibility can be partially attributed to that loss of water in our body tissues and in our spine. There is also increased tissue in our spine as we age. Internally, we also experience an increased amount of calcium deposits, adhesions, and cross-links in the body. Changes take place in the chemical structure of our body’s tissues. There is also a loss of “suppleness due to the replacement of muscle fibers with fatty, collagenous fibers.” Our muscle tissues, tendons, and ligaments also lose elasticity over time. Flexibility relies on the ability of the muscles to relax and contract. Slowing down and living a lifestyle with less activity and movement can affect the ways we are able to manipulate those muscles. According to the Arthritis and Rheumatism Associates, P.C., “it is fairly common for some individuals to decrease their physical activity because they do not feel flexible enough to perform activities they once enjoyed.” This is why we have to realize that what we do for our bodies earlier in our lives matters. We may not be able to prevent loss of any flexibility, but we can work to stay active through regular exercise and stretching to maintain as much mobility as possible.

Ways To Improve Flexibility

There are multiple factors that can affect flexibility, and we know that one of them is age. Typically, pre-adolescents and younger children are more flexible than adults. Gender can also be a factor, as females are generally more flexible than males. If you have been injured, the stage you’re at in recovery may also limit your range of motion. We know that regular stretching, and starting to do so as soon as possible, is one of the best ways to approach improving your flexibility. There are some other things to consider when improving your performance as well. Be aware of the temperature of a joint and its tissues, as well as the temperature of a room, and know that warmer is better for working your muscles, tendons, and ligaments to a greater range of motion. Time of day can also affect your flexibility, and most individuals’ bodies peak around 2:30 to 4pm. Be mindful of any restrictions that any clothing or equipment might pose. Your flexibility is also obviously affected by your ability to perform a particular exercise, but don’t be discouraged if you’re not where you want to be yet! Practice makes perfect. Be committed to making a change and improving your body for your future! Read Also: Flexibility for Lunges Make a plan to stretch daily. The more flexible you aspire to be, the more you should plan to stretch. If you work in your stretches five times a day, you should start to see improvements in your flexibility in two to four weeks. This progress is all about time and weight: how long you hold the stretch, and the weight you apply in each position. Stefanie Barboza does not like static stretching. She likes to incorporate movement forward and backward and right to lift to release the muscles. Your body can be too afraid of breaking. Some people are born with more natural flexibility than others. Those who are more easily flexible, however, may lack strength. Those who are stronger may be less flexible. The goal is to even out your strength with your flexibility. When you stretch, you want to lengthen and strengthen and decompress your body. You may find that an inversion table helps, as it creates space in between vertebrae. Barboza classes emphasize space between the hips and rib cage and holding for both the best position and best body alignment.

Stretches to Try For Flexibility 

Standing Hamstring Stretch- hamstrings, calves, glutes, back, neck

  1. Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, arms by your sides.

  2. Exhale as you bend forward at the hips, lowering your head toward the floor, while keeping your head, neck and shoulders relaxed.

  3. Wrap your arms around the backs of your legs and hold anywhere from 45 seconds to two minutes.

  4. Bend your knees and roll up when you're done.

Lunge with Spinal Twist- hip flexors, quads, back

  1. Start standing with your feet together.

  2. Take a big step forward with your left foot, so that you are in a staggered stance.

  3. Bend your left knee and drop into a lunge, keeping your right leg straight behind you with your toes on the ground, so you feel a stretch at the front of your right thigh.

  4. Place your right hand on the floor and twist your upper body to the left as you extend your left arm toward the ceiling.

  5. Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

  6. Repeat on the other side.

Frog Stretch- hips

  1. Start on all fours.

  2. Slide your knees wider than shoulder-width apart.

  3. Turn your toes out and rest the inner edges of your feet flat on the floor.

  4. Shift your hips back toward your heels.

  5. Move from your hands to your forearms to get a deeper stretch, if possible.

  6. Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

Butterfly Stretch- hips, glutes, back

  1. Sit tall on the floor with the soles of your feet together, knees bent out to sides.

  2. Hold onto your ankles or feet, engage your abs, and slowly lower your body toward your feet as far as you can while pressing your knees toward the floor.

  3. If you're too tight to bend over, simply press your knees down.

  4. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds to 2 minutes and Flexibility will be your gift.

Child’s Pose- back, shoulders, glutes

  1. Start on all fours.

  2. Walk your arms forward a few inches and curl your toes under.

  3. Push your hips up and back halfway toward your heels.

  4. Push through the palms of your hands to keep your arms straight and engaged.

  5. Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

Downward dog- hamstrings, calves, back, shoulders

  1. Start in child’s pose.

  2. Keeping the feet together, straighten the legs and push the heels into the floor.

  3. Push your palms into the floor, keeping your arms straight.

  4. Your body should form a 90-degree angle.

  5. Arch your chest forward toward your fingertips.

  6. Lift your hips high, and pull your bellybutton in toward your spine.

  7. Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes and enjoy Flexibility.

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