Wondering how to get flexible fast? Flexibility is at the core of every exercise and training program because a limber body can perform more motions with decreased risk of injury. Increasing flexibility in one month is done through a dedicated stretching regimen.
Warm up lightly before stretching to increase blood flow while getting your muscles activated.
Benefits of Flexibility
The benefits of flexibility are well known, but many people continue to skip the stretching process. According to Ace Fitness, flexibility reduces your risk of injury while increasing your range of motion and movement capabilities. The reduced risk of injury alone makes the time investment worthwhile.
The increase in performance capability also makes flexibility a major advantage for athletes. Even nonathletes will enjoy these benefits, because the body is more limber and movements have less resistance from stiff muscles and joints. Many individuals are naturally flexible, but most folks really need to stretch and work hard to make gains.
Although a limber body comes loaded with benefits, increasing flexibility requires a very consistent and dedicated approach to stretching. You can stretch either with no resistance or with resistance — both approaches work well when used appropriately. Resistance is added as strength and flexibility are gained and the muscles and joints can handle more pressure.
Regular Stretching Routines
Increasing flexibility in one month requires a daily routine. Incorporate stretching into your workouts and stretch multiple times per week when time is available for extra work. The big key to any stretching routine is really taking the time. Five minutes is inadequate — you really need at least 20 minutes for a reasonable pre-workout stretch.
Increasing flexibility through stretching-only exercise sessions is also useful. A full hour or more of warmups and stretches can really improve your flexibility. If you're wondering how to become more flexible in a short period of time, this is a good approach. Do a full hour at least three times per week to target muscles throughout your body.
A good assessment of your current flexibility involves the classic touch your toes scenario. Stiffness in the lower back, glutes and hamstrings mean you are lacking core flexibility. Test whether you can touch your toes without bending your knees as a weekly assessment of your improvements throughout the month of flexibility training to gauge how to become more flexible. After the month is over and you have increased flexibility, continue using the measurement while maintaining and improving on your gains.
Warmup for Stretching
The warmup is not mandatory by any means, but a light amount of movement can raise the heart rate and help prepare you for a stretching session. A typical warmup involves light jogging, jumping jacks and basic motions to get the body moving.
Warmups are often combined with dynamic stretches as well, say the experts at Ace Fitness. Do a few minutes of light walking or jogging, and add a few lunges, shuffles, backpedals and torso twists as part of a basic warmup routine. You are not pushing hard during this process but are simply loosening up before diving into the deeper static and dynamic stretches that will really push your flexibility.
Read more: 10 Dynamic Warm-Up Exercises
Types of Stretches
Greater flexibility is achieved by stretching and that requires knowledge of specific stretches. One common downfall to gaining flexibility is a limited number of known stretches. Also, working only the areas that feel stiff leads to a limited amount of flexibility gained. Working your entire body in a thorough and well planned stretching session is the most productive means of gaining greater flexibility in a month.
According to ExRx.net, static stretches are commonly used, and they involve simple movements with little resistance. Including a partner to add resistance for some motions also helps you push farther into each motion. A typical static stretch is to reach for your toes and hold for 10 seconds, or do a lunge and hold the position to stretch the hip flexors. These stretches are routine and work well for flexibility building.
Dynamic stretches involve movement to work a specific area. Rather than holding a single position, as with the static stretch, a dynamic stretch uses a motion to add range to the stretch. Rather than simply touching the toes, you will reach for the sky, then slowly bend into the toe touch. Another common dynamic stretch is the windmill motion to stretch your arms and shoulders.
Yoga for Flexibility
Don't want to plan your stretching routine every day? Join a yoga class if you want to learn how to get flexible fast. Start in a beginner group, and hit the yoga studio several times each week to really improve your flexibility. Classes are prolific, so finding a good studio to train on flexible terms is not difficult.
Yoga comes in many different forms, with everything from basic classes to Bikram in heated rooms, notes the American College of Sports Medicine. Experiment with different types of practices until you find something that works well for your needs. Heated rooms can help loosen the muscles, and the increased sweat is good for detox. The heat is uncomfortable for many people, however, and a more general class is a good starting point.
Power yoga adds more strength-training elements to the routine while continuing to focus on flexibility. As you gain strength in a basic class and want to push the limits toward the end of your month of training, consider moving into a power yoga class.
Yoga only requires a mat and comfortable clothing to participate. You can pay for the classes, find a community center-style class or use free resources like online videos. The studio classes do, however, add a layer culture, and purchasing a month membership at a gym or studio will encourage participation.
Read more: 13 Reasons to Start Practicing Yoga
Maintenance Is Key
Focusing on stretching for a month can really help your flexibility — but failing to maintain those gains can lead to losses. Your body can revert to a stiffer phase, and you will essentially need to start over if the flexibility is not maintained. Stretching is really a lifestyle choice that is performed at least a few times each week, and even daily if desired.
You might go through phases where yoga is intensive and you really push the limits of your flexibility. In the long run, however, stretching requires consistency; incorporating simple static and dynamic sets of stretches into your exercise routine is ideal. Push when you feel like really lengthening the muscles or when you are preparing for an event, and maintain flexibility during slower, less intensive periods of training.
Additionally, maintain your core strength to help with flexibility. A strong core increases your ability to perform difficult stretches, yoga and athletic movements. Focus on posture, and work through core strengthening exercises and stretches at least a few times each week.
- Ace Fitness: "How to Improve Flexibility and Maintain It"
- Ace Fitness: "Benefits of Flexibility"
- ExRx.net: "Stretching and Flexibility"
- American College of Sports Medicine: "Selecting and Effectively Using a Yoga Program"
- Ace Fitness: "A New Approach to Warming Up for Your Cardio Workout"
- Canadian Living Magazine: Are You Stretching the Right Way?