flexibility yoga

While many individuals find it hard to believe that the health, fitness, mental well-being and weight loss benefits associated with proper stretching are real, clinical studies prove otherwise.

Without sufficient muscle, ligament and tendon flexibility, normal everyday functions and exercises cannot be performed with their full range of motion, efficiency and reduced risk of injury.

Any form of injury would be detrimental to successfully loss weight through an exercise routine as many of the exercises (depending on the injury) could become difficult (if not impossible) to perform.

The inability to perform the exercises that are essential in promoting effective weight loss could result in a possible loss of interest, and even giving up on the weight loss program altogether.

The elimination of the exercise portion of a weight loss program will reduce the number of daily calories burned, and may actually cause weight gain.

As previously stated, incorporating a stretching routine into your lifestyle not only provides numerous physical benefits, but several mental benefits as well. Many individuals add a stretching routine to the beginning of their exercise sessions, performing several flexibility exercises as a warm-up prior to their strength or aerobic training. Under this scenario, it is highly recommended that the individual also perform flexibility exercises after they have completed their training routine. Typical stretching routines under this approach generally take between 5 and 15 minutes each.

Another approach to performing flexibility exercises is to create a stretching routine that consists solely of flexibility exercises. In this case, the stretching routine may take between 20 and 60 minutes to perform. Under this approach, the benefits associated with stretching the muscles, ligaments and tendons are even greater. Many yoga classes focus primarily on flexibility exercises and are typically 60 minutes in duration. Yoga classes have the added benefit of promoting mental relaxation as well.

Regardless of the approach you choose, it's important to remember that flexibility exercises should always be an integral part of your fitness program and overall lifestyle.

Stretching Properly

Below are a few tips and strategies for adding a stretching routine to your daily fitness regimen that will provide both physical and mental benefits:

    flexibility yoga
  • Stretch each set of muscles evenly: Balance in flexibility is essential, as stretching one side of your body fully and ignoring the other side can produce varying stresses on the skeletal frame. When you stretch the hamstring of your left leg, for example, be sure to equally stretch the right leg as well.

  • Avoid stretching to the point of pain: While it's perfectly normal to feel a little tightness and discomfort at the peak of the flexibility exercise, it is not beneficial to stretch the muscle to the point of damage. There is a fine line between aggressively stretching the muscle to improve flexibility and stretching the muscle to the point of damage.

    This is where if becomes important to "listen to your body" and know the limits associated with stretching each muscle.

  • Progress through your stretching exercises slowly: Stretching is intended to be performed at a relaxed and even pace and should not be rushed. When completing the stretch, slowly release out of the stretch and return to a position of rest. Most flexibility exercises are held for 15 to 30 seconds.

  • Avoid bouncing or jerking during the stretching exercise: Avoid bouncing and other erratic movements when performing the flexibility exercise, as this is a sure way to injure the specific muscle, ligament and/or tendon. Always remember to slowly and evenly enter into and out of each stretching position.

  • Focus on and monitor your breathing technique: Many individuals tend to hold their breath when stretching. Instead, focus on deep, relaxed and cleansing breaths as you perform the flexibility exercises. By doing so, the muscles will relax further and the mind will be calmed and centered.

The Benefits of Stretching

  1. Reduced Tension in Your Muscles: When most individuals begin a fitness routine, their muscles are typically somewhat tight. In fact, many injuries occur due to the fact that the muscles are not ready to be aggressively and fully extended or contracted. Stretching is an excellent way to warm up the muscles, ligaments and tendons prior to being exposed to the stresses of an exercise routine. Performing a stretching routine 2 to 3 times per week has been shown to greatly reduce the tension in the muscles throughout the day and to minimize stiffness in the morning.

  2. Improved Range of Motion: Performing flexibility exercises improves the range of motion in the muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints. This will allow for a greater extension and contraction of the joint and a reduced probability of injury.

  3. Improved Muscle Coordination: In order for the human body to function efficiently and effectively, the muscles must work together during any form of movement. Proper stretching of the muscles forces the muscles that are being stretched to relax in unison and function as a single unit. Again, this is an important aspect in the prevention of injury and the maximization of efficiency and coordination.

  4. Improved Blood Circulation: Stretching warms up the muscles, which in turn warms up the blood stream and dilates the blood vessels. Not only does this reduce the stress and tension that physical activity places on the heart, but it also allows the muscles to receive a larger volume of oxygen and nutrients, meanwhile flushing the toxins that are located within the muscle fibers and cells.

  5. Increase In Energy: All of the previously mentioned benefits associated with improved flexibility combine to provide the body with a higher level of energy. When an individual stretches, a greater number of hormones are automatically made available that provide your body with energy in the form of additional carbohydrates and fatty acids. The additional carbohydrates and fatty acids provide the body with an excess reserve of energizing compounds.

  6. Increase in Flexibility: Performing flexibility exercises prior to a fitness routine has the added benefit of improving all other daily activities. In other words, not only will a flexibility routine increase productivity during the fitness routine, but simple tasks like sitting, standing and walking become easier as your muscles are more agile and relaxed.

Stretching Exercises

  1. Hamstring Stretch: While sitting, extend your right leg directly in front of you and bend your left leg at the knee. The bottom of your left foot should be tucked to the inside of your right thigh. Slowly bend forward towards your stretched leg at your waist and try to touch your right foot with your fingertips. Perform this stretch for 12-15 seconds and switch to stretching the left hamstring.

  2. Hip Stretch: Begin by lying on your back. Bend and raise your right leg so that your right knee moves towards your chest and grab it with your left arm. Pull your right knee towards the left and turn your head to the right. Perform this stretch for 12-15 seconds and switch to stretching the left hip.

  3. Lower Back Stretch: Begin by lying on your back. Your knees should be bent. Grasp your knees with your arms and gently pull them towards your head. You can maximize this stretch by lifting your shoulders from the ground and rocking your body back and forth. Perform this stretch for 20 to 30 seconds. Executive Search and Team building in Lithuania https://www.primumesse.lt/komandos-formavimas-ir-mokymas/

  4. Quadriceps Stretch: Begin by lying on the left side of your body with your left leg bent at the knee. Bend your right leg and grab the ankle with your right hand. Pull the ankle towards your buttocks. Perform this stretch for 12-15 seconds and switch to stretching the left quadriceps.

  5. Calf Stretch: Begin by standing a few feet from a flat wall. Place your right foot behind you about a foot and a half while keeping the right leg fully extended. Place your hands on the wall and begin bending the left knee to stretch the right calf muscle. Perform this stretch for 12-15 seconds and switch to stretching the left calf.

flexibility yoga

The importance of stretching cannot be overstated. Performing a flexibility routine on a regular basis, at least two to three times per week, is beneficial in many ways. Stretching improves the blood flow to the fiber of all soft tissue (i.e. muscles, ligaments, and tendons) and is essential to living a healthy lifestyle.

Regularly performing a stretching routine that is diverse in the actual stretching positions also improves balance, flexibility, and coordination which, in turn, reduces the probability of injuries from slips and falls as we age. In addition, stretching provides the various joints of the body with a greater range of motion, increases coordination and balance, and boosts energy levels. Finally, regularly performing a flexibility routine calms and centers the mind and creates a greater level of mental focus and clarity.