5 Stretches to Increase Your Flexibility

You may think that becoming less flexible is a part of getting older. Did you know that a few simple stretches can increase your flexibility and make you feel young again?

Why Should I Stretch?
Stretching keeps us flexible. Flexibility is important, whether you are playing professional sports or playing in the backyard with your kids. Maintaining a balance between muscular strength and flexibility prevents injury, keeps our posture in line and keeps blood flowing. Plus, stretching feels awesome!

Stretching Basics
Stretching techniques vary depending on your goals. Most of the exercises listed here are static stretches. Static stretches are performed slowly and held in place for 15-30 seconds. Don’t forget to breathe!
It is normal to feel minor discomfort in the muscles being stretched. If you experience pain, stop the stretch immediately and talk to your doctor.

Lets Start Stretching!
What if you only have a few minutes each day to stretch? Here are 5 versatile exercises to try:
1. Corner Chest Stretch
This stretch is perfect for improving posture. No additional equipment is needed, making this exercise easy and convenient to do anywhere! Click on the link to take a look at the step-by-step instructions.
2. Upper Trapezius Stretch
The upper trapezius muscles are located at the sides of the neck. Pain in the upper trapezius is sometimes called “text neck,” caused from the position of the neck that we hold when we are using our smartphones. Check out this neck pain handout by University Health Services – University of California, Berkeley which shows a simple upper trapezius stretch that can be performed while sitting at your desk.
3. Cat-Cow Stretch
This stretch energizes your back muscles in the morning and relaxes them at night! It is a gentle yet effective stretch that increases flexibility in the hips and back. Click on the link to see a video and step-by-step instructions by the American Council on Exercise.
4. Standing Hamstring Stretch
Did you know that tight hamstrings can contribute to low back and knee problems? Keep those hamstrings flexible with this stretch, listed on this handout produced by University of California, Riverside.
5. Calf and Achilles Stretch
Keeping your calves limber is a key way to prevent foot and ankle problems! Calf stretching can also prevent painful leg cramps. Check out this video by the New York Road Runners for easy-to-follow instructions.

Are You Motivated to Stretch?
These five exercises are a great way to start a flexibility program. Whether you are keeping up with your kids, playing in a sports league, or simply looking to relax your muscles, everyone can benefit from a few minutes of daily stretching!