Adding flexibility exercises to your workout can increase the amount of calories burned when you’re not working out, build muscle, increase flexibility, and help prevent injury. This is a lot of benefit for 5-10 minutes of work. Some people even find that adding flexibility exercises to their routine increases their feeling of relaxation after a workout, which increases their desire to work out again. Nearly everyone can benefit from flexibility exercises, even those who have trouble with basic flexibility exercises.
Many people associate flexibility exercises with yoga and they're not far off. There are many wonderful yoga poses that will help almost everyone. If you're afraid that flexibility exercises will have you all twisted up, remember to talk to trainer for some modifications on any flexibility exercise you are interested in. Remember to always stretch after your muscles are warm, or after your workout. If you only plan to do a few flexibility exercises for the day, take at least 10 minutes to walk or run, just to get the blood flowing, before stretching.
If you're a beginner walker or long time runner, be sure to stretch your hamstrings. Sit with one leg extended in front of you and the other bent away from you. Reach down your leg and reach for your toes. If you can't reach your foot, use the handle end of a leash or a towel to help you extend your body over your leg as far as you are able without being in pain. Hold for 6 deep breaths and release. Repeat the exercise for the other leg. Remember that a good stretch should be slightly uncomfortable but never painful.
Stretching your thigh is another common stretching exercise. Grab one foot and pull it as tightly to your butt as possible. This exercise is also good for stabilizing your core, when you’re able to balance on one leg. If you're just starting out and find this exercise impossible, try lying on one side and using the handle end of a leash to loop around the top of your foot while you pull your leg towards you and hold for 6 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side. Slowly graduate to standing and holding on to something stable before standing on one leg.
Getting in a good back stretch is a wonderful release for many people. Sit with your legs extended in front of you. Bend one knee and place the leg over the other leg. Twist so that the elbow of the opposite arm is touching your bent leg. If you're laughing at the thought of getting one leg over the other, try this. Place a box or low stool against a wall. Line up with the wall so that your hip is touching the wall and the foot, against the wall, is resting on the box. Twist your upper body so that you are facing the wall and hold for six deep breaths. Remember to switch sides and repeat.
Don't forget to stretch your arms. Place one arm above your head and allow your hand to drop behind your back. Add to the stretch by pulling the elbow with the other hand. If you're not quite there, try holding a towel behind your head and grabbing it with the other hand. Pull down gently to get a good stretch.
There are many good flexibility exercises and they are so important to maintaining and improving athletic performance that you'll want to add them into your weekly routine. However they're not only for the advance athlete. If you're just starting out, these simple exercises can help you improve circulation, flexibility, and may even help you to find satisfaction in your new routine.