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Flexibility exercises like stretching exercises, yoga, or Pilates improve flexibility, joint mobility, and posture. They also help prevent injuries and enhance overall movement quality.
Here are examples of flexibility exercises, ranging from easiest to most challenging:
- Neck Rolls: Stand or sit with a relaxed posture. Slowly tilt your head to one side, allowing your ear to approach your shoulder. Roll your head forward and continue the circular motion, bringing your head to the other side. Repeat in the opposite direction.
- Shoulder Rolls: Stand or sit with your arms relaxed at your sides. Roll your shoulders forward in a circular motion, then roll them backward. Focus on a smooth and controlled movement.
- Wrist Stretches: Extend your arm straight in front of you with your palm facing up. Use your opposite hand to gently pull back on your fingers, feeling the stretch in your wrist and forearm. Repeat on the other hand.
- Seated Forward Bend: Sit on the ground with your legs extended in front of you. Keeping your back straight, hinge forward from your hips and reach toward your toes. Aim to lengthen your spine and feel a stretch in the back of your legs.
- Standing Quad Stretch: Stand tall and lift one foot behind you, bending your knee. Reach back with your hand and grasp your ankle, gently pulling your foot towards your glutes. Keep your knees close together and maintain your balance. Repeat with the other leg.
- Butterfly Stretch: Sit on the ground and bring the soles of your feet together. Hold onto your ankles or feet and gently press your knees down towards the ground. Feel the stretch in your inner thighs and hips.
- Child’s Pose: Start on all fours, then slowly sit back onto your heels, keeping your arms extended in front of you. Lower your chest towards the ground and rest your forehead on the floor. Relax and breathe deeply.
- Cat-Cow Stretch: Start on all fours with your hands beneath your shoulders and knees beneath your hips. Round your back upward, tucking your chin towards your chest (cat pose), and then lower your belly towards the floor, lifting your head and tailbone (cow pose). Alternate between the two poses, moving with your breath.
- Standing Side Stretch: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Raise one arm overhead and lean to the opposite side, creating a gentle stretch along the side of your body. Repeat on the other side.
- Standing Hamstring Stretch: Stand tall with one foot slightly in front of the other. Bend forward from your hips, keeping your back straight, and reach towards your toes. Feel the stretch in the back of your extended leg. Repeat with the other leg.
- Seated Spinal Twist: Sit on the ground with your legs extended in front of you. Bend one knee and cross it over the other leg, placing the foot flat on the floor. Twist your upper body towards the bent knee, placing your opposite elbow on the outside of your bent knee for support. Repeat on the other side.
- Standing Calf Stretch: Stand facing a wall or sturdy object. Step one leg back, keeping your heel on the ground and toes pointing forward. Lean forward, pressing your hands against the wall, and feel the stretch in your calf muscle. Repeat with the other leg.
- Lunge with Hip Flexor Stretch: Step forward with one leg into a lunge position, with your back knee resting on the ground. Keeping your torso upright, push your hips forward, feeling the stretch in the front of your back leg. Repeat with the other leg.
- Seated Wide-Legged Forward Bend: Sit with your legs spread wide apart. Hinge forward from your hips and reach forward with your hands, aiming to bring your chest towards the ground. Keep your back straight and feel the stretch in your inner thighs and hamstrings.
- Standing Splits: Stand with one leg in front of the other, toes pointing forward. Hinge forward at the hips, keeping your back straight, and reach towards the ground. Aim to bring your torso parallel to the ground and feel the stretch in the back of your extended leg. Repeat with the other leg.
The most important part it is not force, but rather do the exercises gently and slowly following your breath pattern. Do not rush – you will not be Jean Claude Van Damme doing splits mid-air in a week! It is important to have in mind your aim of achieving better flexibility and mobility for your body in a gentle way!
Practice, practice and practice! Slowly and gently!