5 Top Tips for Increasing Your Flexibility!

Do you find it embarrassing that you can’t touch your toes or if you can, still find it difficult or awkward? You may well have tight hamstrings and stiff hips. Don’t worry help is on hand, check out these 5 Top Tips for Increasing Your Flexibility!

1. Do yoga

If you think you need to be flexible before you give yoga a go then think again. You do yoga to gain more flexibility.

Yoga has gained huge popularity over the last decade and it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the different styles on offer. Try one that is local to where you live or work so you’re not stressed trying to get there. A community based class can be just as beneficial as city yoga.

Yoga should make you feel positively different afterwards which is a good indicator that it’s the right class for you. Baffled about the different styles? If you’re really stiff, try hot Bikram Yoga which is designed to warm you up whilst you work and protect you from overstretching. Iyengar Yoga is based on precise body alignment to slowly and deeply get into your joints. Vinyasa flow and Jivamukti yoga are usually performed to music where you flow from posture to posture.

2. Keep moving

Move as much as you can! Prolonged sitting not only increases risk of cardiovascular disease and weight gain, it also decreases muscle flexibility. It’s easy to get into a habit of sitting down for hours, especially if you work at a computer. Do a few minutes of stretching at your desk and set your alarm at intervals throughout the day to remind you to get up and walk about. The World Health Organisation recommends at least 150 minutes of physical activity (that raises your pulse) per week.

3. Eat oily fish

Evidence that consumption of fish such as mackerel, tuna, salmon and cod reduces inflammation in joints is convincing. Official advice is to eat fish at least twice a week (140g per portion), at least one of which should be oily fish. Fish is an excellent source of an omega 3 fatty acid known as DHA which has anti-inflammatory properties. It is found in large quantities in the human brain and is used to strengthen synapses which enhance learning and memory too.

If you’re vegetarian, try a daily tablespoon of chia seeds or spirulina powder which contains other fatty acids that can be converted into DHA. However, DHA from fish, eggs and meat contain 10-100 times more than plant based alternatives. Taking fish oil supplement may not have the same benefits.

4. Be a copycat

A cat stretching after a nap or children rolling around on the floor can be great role models for the things we can do to keep supple. The ability to move, stretch, rock and roll is a blessing.

5. Always stretch after your cardio workout

Whether you’re a keen runner, fanatical about spinning or mad for the cross trainer, make sure you stretch your hamstrings.

Consistent cardio workouts keep you fit but can shorten the muscles at the back of your legs. To compensate, the lumbar (lower) spine tilts forwards. Virtually all long term back pain is accompanied by tight hamstrings. What’s the remedy? A seated stretch could hold the key.

After your workout, sit down with both legs in front of you, feet together. Bend the knees and stretch your arms forward to touch your toes. Hold for 20 seconds whilst keeping your spine straight and eyes forward. Feel the stretch down the back of your legs. Eventually, try and straighten your legs whilst continuing to stretch forward.

Take note of these top 5 tips and give them a whirl over the next 4-8 weeks. You will find that even the simplest thing like getting out of bed will physically feel easier. Many things like squatting, bending, leg lifting and twisting even simply walking about will be easier and even pleasurable!

Hannah Patterson

Hannah Patterson is a broadcaster and writer on nutrition, health and fitness. Currently studying an MSc in Nutrition and Health, Hannah has a particular interest in ‘eating for optimum health’. Hannah is a trained yoga teacher and runs nutrition workshops across north west England. Feel free to check out a selection of Hannah’s recipes and videos on her website: www.makeithealthy.co.uk

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