As a flexibility expert I receive many inquiries from all over the world. The single most asked question from people of all ages in every sport genres is, “What is the best way to increase my flexibility?”
Whether you are a pro or novice athlete, yoga instructor or professional dancer, everyone just wants to feel better and alleviate those aches and pains. In general, tightness is caused from not properly stretching before and after your routine!
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An individual is never too old to increase their flexibility. In fact, that is exactly when we need flexibility training more than ever. Some people believe that age has somehow defined their ability to be flexible. When clients “I am too old to be flexible”, I always respond with “You are only too old if you think you are.”
My personal belief is that the mind directs the body. I have seen firsthand that when an individual believes in decline at a certain age, they prove themselves right! My professional experience has also shown me time and time again that what you believe has a tremendous impact on your personal well-being and the immediate outcome in the events of your life including your flexibility.
The Power of Thought
Many years ago I read Deepak Chopra’s wise advice: “Have a meditation age”. Then I added to my meditation practice to see myself exactly as I wish to be and find my natural vibration of peace. This relaxes and softens the face and my body performs at its best. Sometimes the biggest shortcoming of attending a yoga class or any other type of class is that one routine does not fit all! Some of my clients come to me for flexibility training because their sport requires it. Others come because their lack of flexibility has caused them to become injured, and they are unable to participate in their favorite sport.
Balance the Body
Stretching should be a part of everyone’s fitness program. It is important as well to do the proper warm up and stretching to get into yoga positions with ease. When you have back pain, shoulder pain or knee pain, it’s your body’s way of trying to get your attention. To keep these common aches and pains from escalating, they can most often be relieved by relaxing into the correct stretches.
It’s important to know that practicing stretches in a specific order can help the body open up faster. For example, before you can effectively stretch the hamstrings into the back, one must stretch the calves thoroughly first. In all my DVD’s, online courses and when I work with clients, I demonstrate stretches in this order to help prepare the body for each following stretch:
- Upper body
- Lower legs/Calves/Feet
- Waist stretches
- Inner Thighs/Groin area
- Back Arch
Releasing Extra Tight Areas
It’s best not to omit any body parts because everything is connected. Stretching and strengthening the entire body will create balance and leave you feeling free and open. If the body is really tight in an area, switch sides and come back and repeat that stretch again. Each time you repeat a stretch the body should allow you to “sink deeper into it”. Don’t try to force it by violently bouncing. This method is outdated and can cause injuries.
The biggest part of flexibility training is breathing. Inhale deep before the stretch and exhale as you sink into the stretch. This will also help relieve stress and will put you in touch with your body.
Some of the benefits of stretching include:
- Reduces the risk of injury
- Help ease menstrual cramps
- Increase range of motion in sports
- Better posture
- Improved love-making pleasure
- Reducing muscle tension and soreness
- Improved sleep
- Anti-Aging — keeps one active and more youthful appearance
This is a valuable investment into your health, the gift that keeps on giving and giving! It can end up saving you on costly trips to doctors, chiropractors, physical therapy and unnecessary surgeries.