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Stretches For Better Flexibility

Mobility or Flexibility?

Colloquially, “flexibility” and “mobility” may sound the same, they are different concepts with important impacts on your fitness.

Mobility: how a joint moves
Flexibility: length of a muscle

Essentially, think of mobility as an umbrella covering a range of factors that may affect the range of motion around a joint. One of these components is flexibility – it’s difficult to move a joint if the connected muscles around it don’t stretch far enough to allow it. But there are other considerations that come into play as well, like not having the strength to perform the exercises, soft tissue damage (e.g. inflamed tendons), and even problems with other joints in the same chain of movement. So while an adequately stretched muscle may, in theory, be conducive to a greater range of movement around a joint, it’s basically useless if your mobility is constricted by other factors.

So why should you care? Beyond just working out in the gym, both mobility and flexibility affect your joint health in everyday life as well. Think about it this way: if you have a general mobility problem that affects how you move, your body isn’t going to be functioning in the way it’s supposed to. Over time you can suffer more wear-and-tear, as well as general discomfort, than if the area around the joint could move as normal. Also, when you’re exercising you’re essentially performing these training these faulty movements under higher intensity and greater stress, so painful injuries can accumulate over time.

Moving For Better Flexibility

1.Quad/Hip Flexor

Kneel on floor with both knees bent, shins on floor. Lunge right leg forward, so right knee is bent 90 degrees in front of you, right foot is flat on floor directly under knee, and left leg is still bent underneath you, parallel to right. Place both hands on top of right knee and press back hip forward, leaning into stretch, keeping torso upright. Hold for 30 seconds; release. Do three reps; switch legs and repeat.

2.Seated Trunk Twist

Core: Seated Russian Twist

Sit on the ground with your knees bent and your heels about a foot and a half from your butt.Lean slightly back without rounding your spine at all.Place your hands behind your head with elbows wide. Pull your navel to your spine, and twist slowly to the right. The movement is not large and comes from the ribs rotating. This completes one rep. Inhale through your center and rotate to the left.Do 30 rotations, alternating sides.

3.Foldover Stretch

Stand tall with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, arms by sides. Exhale as you bend forward from hips, lowering head toward floor, while keeping head, neck and shoulders relaxed. Wrap arms around backs of legs and hold anywhere from 45 seconds to two minutes. Bend knees and roll up slowly to release.

4.Swan Stretch

Lie facedown on floor with hands in front of shoulders, fingers facing forward, legs together and extended behind you. Press into hands to lift belly off floor. Keeping abs engaged, shoulders down and pelvis grounded, lengthen upper body away from mat, reaching out and up from crown of head. Draw shoulder blades together, opening chest. Hold for 30 to 45 seconds; release. Do five reps.

5.Butterfly Stretch 

To nix next-day soreness and increase flexibility, finish this routine with a relaxing stretch. Start seated, with the bottoms of your feet sandwiched together and your knees relaxed, out to the sides while holding onto your ankles. Gently lean forward, lowering your chest towards your feet until you feel a deep stretch in your inner thighs. Hold this position for 30 seconds, and then relax.

6.Standing Triceps Stretch

Stand tall with feet hip-width apart, arms extended overhead. Bend right elbow so right palm lands on upper back. Reach left hand over to grasp just below right elbow. Gently pull elbow back and toward head; hold for about 45 seconds. Switch arms and repeat.

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