not only lay out some of the best stretches to improve flexibility but, include my game changing details from my proven flexibility training system that make a world of difference.
Consistency and stretching the right way play a huge roll in safe effective progress. The basic Jack LaLanne stretches of yesterday are outdated and may leave you feeling frustrated and confused about how to finally get unstuck. When it comes to stretching, there are many harmful turns you can take. There is an overflow of ill-informed advice running rapid all over the internet.
My intention is to eliminate the confusion and misinformation around stretching and flexibility. For three decades I have been a flexibility guru and martial artist working with Olympians, performers, dancers, from beginners to the top athletes all around the world.
Important details to get the highest results from the stretches:
Keep in mind learning the
best stretches will not do much unless you apply these details below. Read
carefully first then try the stretches shown after the next few paragraphs.
How long do I hold each stretch:
Many blogs and articles say to hold each stretch for 30 seconds. I have found that is not necessarily correct. Here’s why, the body knows always listen to your inner knowing. Holding a stretch that long can be too painful and cause harm from forcing yourself to hold it when the body’s feedback is saying otherwise. This may cause the muscles to contract and get even tighter.
How to finally get unstuck: Instead of going by a certain number of seconds go by how the body feels. For an area that is painfully tight hold for a few seconds and come out of the stretch and then go to the other side or right back into the same stretch over and over until it starts to get easier. The break gives the body an opportunity to process in between and get used to it. You may notice that you are able to go deeper into the stretch and build up to holding the stretch for longer. The magic happens on the repeat so do not give up!
On the other hand, if you are in a stretch that feels so good and healing you may want to stay in the stretch longer than thirty seconds to fully receive the benefits your body is asking for.
How to breathe to increase flexibility:
The release and mobility breakthrough happen through the best use of the breath, by setting Intention and paying attention. Start with an open mind about the power of stretching the right way. When going into a stretch always begin with a deep inhale through the nose and take breathe all the way day to the bottom of the spine. Hold the breath for a beat and right before you exhale mentally tell your low back to “let go” then exhale out of the mouth and you go into the stretch. Time your exhale to keep going until you get to your new stretch destination.
Stretches should be done in the correct sequence to safely maximize the results. Here I have laid out some stretches from my system to get you started. The magic is in my details so follow the instructions above carefully to feel and see a real difference.
1. Chest Opener
2. Calf Stretch
3. Quad stretch
Photo credit: Angela Yap Healthy Living Mountain News
4. Hip Opener
Important: Protect your knees! Never ever press directly on knee, instead right under hip bone on very top on leg. Copyrighted material not to be reused without written permission.
5. Hamstring Stretch
Put stretch strap on from behind you and put a loop from each side on one foot, be sure to stretch the foot evenly by flexing the foot back don’t leave out the toes! Be aware of the foot caving in or turning out it needs to be aligned perfectly straight to fully benefit. If you don’t have a strap and are very tight lean the leg that is stretching against a chair or wall to hold it in
Using Stacey Stretch Strap, Stacey Posture Strap & Yoga Blocks
6. Straddle Stretch
If using the Stacey Stretch Strap put 1 strap (or 2 for the more advanced to double the stretch and resistance) and pick the loop with the right level of tension and put one on the foot and do the same with the other foot. Do not do the double bounce to use momentum to get legs up together as shown in video
Flexibility the fountain of youth
To become more flexible, you must stretch, and it should be an integral part
of any workout routine. Stretching lengthens your muscles and improves the
range of motion of your joints, allowing you to move more freely and with less
risk of injury. But flexibility is also useful in everyday life by making
chores like bending to scoop up a dropped pen or stooping to tie a shoelace
easier to do. Regular stretching can help improve flexibility, as well as range
of motion in your joints, if you are new to exercising, start slow and
gradually build up the intensity of your workouts regularly.
Do you find it difficult to touch your toes? Struggling to tie your shoes,
put on socks, and perform other activities you used to take for granted when
you were younger? Stretching will help you regain lost flexibility by
lengthening the muscles that are shortened and atrophied during the aging
See How to get a Flexible Body at Home
Get the full program to transform your flexibility!
What's your level? Flexibility Master Class Series
Setting up your flexibility training area:
The best flexibility aids to safely increase flexibility
The back doesn’t like a hard floor
Area with some clear wall space (walls and chair provide
There’s no reason to skip out on a deeper stretch or the
perfect yoga pose just because your flexibility isn’t quite there yet. Yoga
blocks are one of the most useful accessories for beginners, but even advanced
yogis love using yoga blocks for support in poses where it's needed. These are
ecofriendly soft foam yoga blocks
Stacey Posture Strap:
The Posture Strap can be used by anyone. The benefits include better posture, decreased stress and tension, less joint and muscle pain, greater energy, increased breathing capacity, great for frozen shoulder and torn rotator cuff. All you need to do is slip it on, cross the straps in back, pull it up and feel your body begin to straighten as you control the tightness with the Velcro. With regular use your shoulders will shift back giving you a taller, straighter appearance. Good posture is the body language of confidence and health.
Stacey Stretch Strap:
I cannot stress enough what an effective tool the strap is to increase flexibility, range of motion, and improves recovery of the muscles. Efficient way to stretch your upper and lower body with clean alignment to create new muscle memory. When I researched the market, I found the straps to be lacking in the essential elements of the correct level of resistance, tension. It also needed to be soft yet strong enough material to not painfully dig into skin and with the correct length and number of loops to suits all ages & heights. So, I created it myself! My customers say it is the BEST STRETCHING STRAP ON THE MARKET! This custom designed stretch strap will provide you support needed to help stretch further than you ever thought possible, and fast.
Calf Master Stretcher:
The Bob will increase speed, strength, ankle mobility, and vertical jump. It strengthens and stretches muscles, tendons, ligaments, helps treat plantar fasciitis, and is the ultimate lower leg solution. This simple, yet effective, device will relieve your pain in no time. It also strengthens and tones the calves, as well as trains your core.
No matter how much you stretch, sore muscles and Achilles’s tendons can hold you back. But there’s an innovative way to stretch every muscle in your lower body with this Calf Stretcher.
Whatever the fitness levels, the calf stretcher can be used by anyone. You can target your calf muscles at both ends of their stretch range. Target your Achilles tendon as well as the back of the knee to aid post workout recovery. What is differentiates this calf master is that rocks back and forth to also work your core while delivering an excellent stretch to your calf muscles. It also improves vertical jump height, clears shin splits, and helps clear tender Achilles, foot, and lower leg pain.
Stretch before or after workout:
Despite the claims
that stretching before a workout is not recommended, after working with
athletes for thirty years and myself as a professional martial artist I have experienced
otherwise. If you are performing a sport, martial arts or dance that requires an
extreme range of motion stretching beforehand will allow better performance
with good alignment and help prevent serious tears and injuries. If using
elliptical or stationary bike or a less demanding workout as far as requiring a
lot of flexibility stretching after while body is warm is highly beneficial.
My flexibility training programs are a workout within themselves it is good to take days just training with my intensive courses are their own
Held back by lack of flexibility
If you go to dance class, cheerleader practice, martial arts
class or most classes involving physical activity there is usually not a
solution based effective flexibility training routine offered. Over the last
three decades of my career this has been an all-too-common issue.
Many times, these instructors tell the student they will never be flexible, leaving them devastated. Only because the coach truly does not know how to help the student safely increase flexibility
What you can do now – Get the right program for your exact needs. If you are beginner an advanced flexibility program will not serve you. If you have aches and pains get a program that helps, clear those issues. Train mindfully everyone progresses at a different rate. However, if you are progressing it means you are doing the right program correctly.
Results during my flexibility training session via Skype with ballet dancer Paloma
Flexibility benefits everyone
You don’t have to be a dancer or yogi to benefit from the best stretches.
The above stretches are the perfect way to increase flexibility for all ages. Learn
how to stretch to increase flexibility and decrease the risk of injuries, including
hamstring stretches, stretches for runners and more. Regular stretching the
right way will help improve posture, circulation, muscle recovery, range of
motion, clear aches, pains, reduce stress, increase energy, and sleep better.
Flexibility is the ability of the joints to move freely through their full range of motion. Young athletes growing thru growth spurts desperately need to bring the body into balance with flexibility training as well as those speeding up the aging process from inactivity and hunched over posture. The good news is that anyone of any age can improve their flexibility by consistently doing stretches at home. This can be a life changing opportunity!