improve your flexibilityCredit: Ambro

Flexibility is important as it affects your range of movement and decrease stiffness in your muscles and joints.  Here are the fast ways to increase your flexibility. Aim to do these stretches everyday and push yourself slowly a little further as your flexibility improves.

Strengthen your legs

Strengthening your legs improves your exercise performance and prevents back pain

1. Stand and place your left foot half a stride in front of your right foot, keep most of your weight on your right leg. Your front leg should remain straight with toes pointing forwards. Your rear leg should be bent slightly.

2. Bending over you right knee a little, place both hands on your right knee, keeping your head lifted and with your back straight. Relax your shoulder and neck.

3. Slowly turn forwards, lower your chest towards your front thigh. Hold in this position for 30 seconds

4. Point your left foot to the side a far as possible without it being painful and again turn forwards, you should start to feel a stretch in your hamstring.

5. Repeat with your left foot pointed inwards.

6. Swap positions and place your right leg in front of you and repeat all steps.

For a deeper stretch, try to go as far as you possibly can and hold for 10 seconds. Breathe in and relax the stretch slightly. As you exhale, bend deeper into the stretch. Do this several times, as you do this go further and further into the stretch.

Stretch your sides

By stretching your sides you are working the full length of your body, from your shoulders to your thighs

1. Stand with your feet wide apart, with your legs straight then point your left foot to the side. Stretch your arms at chest level, wide apart, palms facing the front of your body.

2. Bend your left knee slowly, keep your right leg straight. Make sure your left knee doesn’t bend beyond your toes.

3. Simultaneously, tilt your whole body to the left, towards your left knee, keeping your arms wide apart as you are stretching.

4. Try to get your left hand to go as low as you can, while keeping your abs and bottom pulled tight.

5. Your left hand should be aiming towards the floor and your right hand reaching up to the ceiling, keep your head up.

6. Slowly return to the start position and repeat the stretch again on your right side. For each side, repeat the stretch 20 to 30 times.

For improved flexibility aim to hold each stretch for 15 seconds in the most extreme position you can reach, as our flexibility improves gradually build up to 30 seconds. You should feel this stretch in your shoulders, inner thighs, hamstring and waist.

Lengthen your neck

Stretch muscles to combat tension and knots by lengthening your neck

1. This stretch can be done anywhere and at anytime, however it’s best to do it sitting in an upright position, with your legs crossed and without any back support.

2. Ensure your core muscles are fully engaged to pull your stomach in and keep your back straight.

3. Bend your head slowly to the right, drop your right ear to your right shoulder, as far as it feels comfortable.  You should notice the stretch on the side of your neck.

4. For a further stretch, press the fingers of your left hand towards the floor, extend the stretch into the top of the shoulder. Hold this stretch for about 30 seconds. Return your head to the centre and repeat this stretch on the other side.

The key to better flexibility is to keep pushing yourself further every time. If you don’t feel a bit of tension or stretch, then you’re not stretching properly. Try to bear the mild discomfort, but back off if you feel any sharp pain. The more effort you put in the better the results you will achieve.

Bend your back

Bending your back maintains a flexible spine and reduces back pain.

1. Lie on your back in a cross position, with your legs almost straight and your arms outstretched on the floor.

2. Keep both palms of your hand on the floor with your legs outstretched, gently and slowly swing your left foot up and across towards your right hand.

3. Return to the start position and repeat these steps on the opposite side.

4. Start off with small movements, with each swing gently increase your range of motion, gradually building up to larger swings. Make sure you keep control of your leg.

5. Try to keep both your arms and shoulders down and leave your pelvic region rotating freely.

6. Try repeat this to do 20 to 30 times in total.

Your emotional state can greatly impact your flexibility. Try to relax your mind while you stretch, this will help relax your body, and improve your results. Try listening to soothing music while stretching.