Updated: Jul 27, 2022
Would you like to increase your flexibility range and have the freedom to move or to just do ordinary daily tasks with more ease and grace? You could be a dancer, a contortionist or maybe none of that but whoever you are become more supple will improve not just the way you walk, dance but also your overall health. You’ll feel better, healthier and stronger, your state of mind will improve considerably and you’ll have fewer injuries. But if you are a dancer, a yogi, a contortionist, a cheerleader, a dance teacher your overall performance, posture and balance will increase too. So here you’ll find many factors which contribute to the lack of flexibility in your body but also lots of tips on how to gain that flexibility besides your gender, age etc.
One of the most important factors that affect how flexible we are is our posture. To create the ability to just do a front split and nothing too advanced like an over-split, a leg lift, a grand-jeté etc. you need to have a straight back before you even start. If you sit at your desk, dining table, in the car or in any other place hunching your back, shoulder and neck, then what you are doing is educating your muscles to be in that position and this is why people find it more comfortable sitting in that way. Try to straighten your back, pull your shoulders back and down and engage your core muscles. At first that will feel uncomfortable and hard to do because you are stretching and using muscles that you probably didn’t even know you had!! Improving your suppleness level will not just be beneficial for dancers, gymnasts, acrobats, cheer leaders and contortionists but also for anybody else.
Something else to consider is how active you are everyday and also how active you have been most of your life. If you spend most of the day sitting and working in an office, driving long hours or studying you are keeping your body in a sedentary position which it is not meant to be in. We are supposed have a break every 20 minutes from sitting because our body is meant to be active. Even a child or teenager should not be spending hours watching TV, playing video games and lying on the bed or on the floor doing all sort of activities ( drawing, hand crafting, playing) because they are leading themselves into a sedentary life. What happens to your muscles, joints and tendons when you are most of the day sitting down is that they become tight, they shorten and lose their endurance and strength. In order for the body to function well and be able to do simple body movements such as bending down, lift an object from the table or floor or even try to hold a devéloppé in ballet, you need strength and flexibility. Of course we are not all looking to achieve a split or to have some contortionist skills but we all need to have some level of flexibility to live well and happy.
Check out the post "Amazing ways on how to improve your balance & stability"
Another crucial factor is the variety of physical exercises that you do every day. A great example is if you are a ballet dancer, to perform well just doing ballet classes will not be enough for you to keep you fit in this discipline. You have to include cross-training to keep your body fit, flexible and toned such as Pilates, swimming, yoga, running, going to the gym, stretching etc. Of course you don’t have to do all of these just listed but at least some of them. A second example could be if you are an office worker and as a way to keep yourself fit you go to the gym 3 or 4 times a week. This is a good thing but you are missing out on some kind of flexibility exercises or maybe a yoga class to train different muscles in your body. So having a variety of form of exercises or disciplines is very important to see good results in your level of flexibility.
So to keep having a variety of exercises, sports or disciplines will ensure that every muscle, joint or tendon is using the whole range of motion. Every part of our body needs to be stretched because in order to obtain flexibility in one part of the body we need to be able to have suppleness in all the muscles which surround that particular area. For example, in order to be able to do the front split you need to stretch your Sartorius and iliopsoas muscles, all the hip flexors, hips, back muscles and also your feet. Muscles are all connected and if one of them is tight then that will affect all the muscles around it.
You might be interested to also read the post "Change your life: how to improve your posture"
In order to increase your flexibility level you have to have a good stretching technique and before doing it a good warm up too. Warming up your muscles before stretching will prepare them for the most demanding movements. It is also important to hold each stretch for at least 1 minute and to not force it otherwise instead of improving you’ll end up injuring yourself or stiffening the muscles even more.
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