There are a number of different factors that may contribute to why some people are more flexible than others. Genetics, gender, exercise history and other reasons contribute to a person’s flexibility. Let’s dive deeper into what makes a person flexible.
Aging is a major factor when it comes to flexibility. As you age, your muscles and joints become stiffer and less flexible. Also, having an inactive lifestyle and not stretching regular throughout your life can accelerate your inflexibility as you age. It is recommended to stay active, limber and healthy throughout your life.
Exercise and Work History
If you’ve spent a majority of your life in an office job, sitting and leaning forward to look at your computer, your body will suffer in the long run. Sitting for long periods of time will cause your flexibility to gradually diminish.
Gender (Are Women More Flexible Than Men?)
Gender surprisingly plays a role in flexibility as well. In general, women are typically more naturally flexible than men, part of this is because of the makeup of their connective tissue. Now this is a generalization, but work with us. Women typically focus on activities that require more flexibility, such as yoga, dancing, pilates, etc.
Some people are just more flexible than others! Even if people are more flexible because of genetics, do not underestimate the power of lifestyle habits. Stretching 10 to 15 minutes each day will make a huge difference in flexibility.
A tense muscle is a short muscle. Most stretching techniques have the purpose of causing your muscles to relax before lengthening them. The muscles don’t actually get longer when you stretch, they in turn, stop contracting.
How You Can Become More Flexible
- It’s best to stretch when your muscles are warm. This helps prevent pulling a muscle. Stretching also prevents soreness after an exercise.
- Know your body and don’t push yourself too hard. If you try to stretch deeper and feel a pain, then slowly ease out of your stretch.
- When your muscles are warm and stretched slowly, they will respond much better. So when you stretch, move with complete awareness of your body. Gently go deeper into your poses.
- Practice consistency. In order to experience progress in your flexibility, you must stretch regularly. You’ll be surprised how much stretching three times a week makes a difference.
- Sometimes holding a pose for only 5 breaths might not be enough. It’s okay to stay in your stretch for a few minutes.
- Our bodies are different. If you had a really great day of stretching yesterday, your muscles might not be up to the task today. It’s okay, be patient.
Best Stretches to Increase Flexibility:
Hip Flexor Stretch:
- Kneel on the floor with both of your knees bent and shins on floor.
- Lunge your right leg forward so your right knee is bent at 90 degrees in front of you with your right foot on the floor directly under your knee.
- You can either place your hands on your front right leg for a beginner stretch or bend your left leg at the knee and hold it with your left arm.
- Lean your hips forward into your stretch, keeping your torso upright.
- Hold for 30 seconds or longer. Repeat on the next leg.
Stretches: hip flexors, quads, hamstrings
- Sit on the floor with the soles of your feet together and your knees bent out to the sides.
- Grasp your feet with your hands, engage your core and slowly bend your body forward toward your feet.
- Go only as far as comfortable.
- Hold for 45 seconds to two minutes
- If you are uncomfortable, elevate your hips with a few blankets or a pillow then try again.
Stretches: neck, back, glutes, hamstrings and thighs.
Reclining Pigeon Stretch:
- Lie with your back on the floor, knees bent, feet flat on the floor.
- Cross your right foot over your left thigh.
- Hook your arms around the left hamstring and lift your left foot a few inches while keeping your back and shoulders on the floor.
- Gently bring your right left in toward you until you feel a stretch.
- Hold for 45 seconds to two minutes.
- Lower your legs to the ground. Switch legs and repeat.
Stretches: lower back, hips, glutes and hamstrings
- Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent with your arms by your sides.
- Exhale as you bend forward from your hips, lowering your head towards the floor.
- Keep your head, neck, shoulders relaxed.
- Wrap your arms around your back legs and hold 45 seconds or more.
- If you’re not comfortable reaching that far, bend your knees more or place your hands on the ground.
Stretches: neck, back, glutes, hamstrings and calves
Call Alexander Orthopaedic Associates Today!
At AOA, we are passionate about rejuvenating your joints. We urge all of our patients to take care of themselves, whether it’s light to intense exercise, stretching or maintaining a healthy weight. If you’re having joint pain, please call us today.