One of the most over looked components of fitness is flexibility. Flexibility is defined as full range of motion around a joint. It is important to decrease injury, to keep your joints from getting stiff, and to maintain movement all over your body. Flexibility is important in every day life. Without adequate range of motion everyday activities like picking up a dropped object, reaching for things, gardening and even looking both ways before crossing the street become difficult and painful.
Maintaining and regaining flexibility is easier than you think and can be accomplished in small moments of time. Below are suggested stretches that will help improve your range of motion.
- Shoulder Circles –Roll your shoulders in large circles back and forward.
- Neck stretch –Tilt your head to the side as if you were laying your ear on your shoulder. Keep your shoulders down. Roll your chin to your chest and repeat the stretch on the opposite side.
- Chest Stretch –Sit on the edge of a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Reach your arms behind you and grasp the back of the chair. Gently squeeze your shoulder blades together and slightly lean forward to stretch your chest and shoulders.
- Leg and Lower Back Stretch –Sit on the floor with your back against a wall. Extend your legs in front of you and point toes toward the ceiling. Sit as tall as you can, without bending or leaning. Feel this stretch in your hamstrings (back of legs), calves, hips and lower back.
- Side Stretch –Stand with feet apart. Place one hand on your hip and reach the other hand toward the ceiling. Gently lean to the side stretching your torso. Repeat on the other side.
Flexibility training can be done daily. Hold each stretch at the point of tension in the muscle (but NOT PAIN) for 10-15 seconds without bouncing. If you experience limited and painful mobility, consult your physician prior to starting an extensive stretching program.