Flexibility is often neglected by many exercisers, but it should form an important part of any fitness routine alongside resistance training, cardiovascular exercise and good nutrition.
The real sticking point with many people is their starting point – a lot of us don’t incorporate much (if any) stretching or flexibility routines and have poor flexibility. But, link building up your stamina for running or trying to improve the amount of weight you’re lifting, slow incremental improvements come from sticking to a regular routine.
Starting off right
Before getting started with a flexibility program, you need to be committed to it. Stretching once every couple of weeks won’t have anything like the impact of a regular routine that you consistently perform.
The stretching routine should be well-rounded and cover most of your body. If you have a particular weak point, such as tight hamstrings or poor hip flexibility, then try to find a supplemental program that will help address those particular issues as well as improving overall flexibility.
Also, it should also go without saying that some stretches will be easier for those carrying a little less weight. Touching your toes is so much easier when you don’t have 50lbs of gut getting in your way!
Simple stretching routines
There are some excellent stretching resources out there, particularly for beginners looking to take their first steps.
Starting Stretching is a great program for those just looking to make a solid start to improving their flexibility. It covers the majority of key areas in the body, and is a great jumping-off point for beginners. It also includes beginner and intermediate variations of the movements, so you can progress as you start to make improvements in your flexibility.
Bodybuilding.com also has a great section on stretching, which shows you how to do a huge range of stretches using videos. You can filter by body part, equipment required and difficulty level, so it’s great for finding movements to target your weak points.
Yoga has been helping people improve their flexibility and coordination for a long, long time, and there are so many different kinds of yoga that there’s really something to suit everyone. To begin with, you probably won’t be able to do some of the movements, but consistent practice and dedication will see your flexibility improve considerably.
Youtube is a goldmine for yoga videos, and this 30 minute beginner video is a great place to get started. The routine is challenging without being too difficult, and is a perfect jumping-off point for people trying to get started.
http://www.doyogawithme.com/ has an incredible amount of high quality (free!) yoga videos aimed at all levels of experience, and is one of the best resources we’ve found. There are routines targeting different areas of the body, and there’s enough quality content to keep you busy for a while!
There’s no shortage of great information out there, but the most important thing is to get started and commit to improving your flexibility. Over time you’ll start to see some huge improvements.