Top 5 Ways to Improve Flexibility

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Flexibility gives you more than the ability to touch the ground without bending your knees. According to an article on the Real Simple website, flexibility is the third fitness pillar, after strength training and cardiovascular conditioning. In addition to helping you stay fit, flexibility decreases your risk of injury and can help prevent conditions like arthritis.

5 Breathe

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When you work your body, it needs extra oxygen. Breathing properly while doing stretches helps deliver the oxygen your muscles need. When you stretch, you lengthen the muscle fibers, or tendons, attached to the bones. The longer the muscle fibers, the more you can increase the size of the muscles, your metabolism and circulation. Deliver the oxygen that your muscles need and at the right times by breathing in as you get into position and breathing out as you do a stretch.

4 Warm Your Muscles

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Before any stretching routine, prepare your muscles with a light warmup, like jogging. If breaking a sweat isn’t your thing, get in a hot bath or shower for about 10 minutes. As you stretch, don’t bounce in an attempt to force your muscles to elongate further—this can cause muscle injuries. Plus, you’ll look like you’re working out to an ‘80s fitness video. Instead, only stretch to the “point of resistance.”

3 Massage

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Get a massage because it helps you stay flexible. A massage breaks up knots in your muscles that can restrict your movement and helps eliminate waste, like lactic acid, according to “Men’s Fitness” magazine. This means that you recover faster after workouts and prepare your muscles for deeper stretches. Just remember to drink plenty of water after a muscle-kneading.

2 Post-Exercise Stretches

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Always follow a workout with some static stretches, so your range of motion doesn’t suffer as you build muscles. Static stretches help loosen the muscles that tightened up during your workout. In addition to preventing an injury during your workout, improving your flexibility helps you adapt to unexpected physical stressors, like when you quickly turn your neck or catch yourself as you slip.

1 Yoga

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Yoga isn’t just for free spirits. While the exercises won’t necessarily prepare you to be a contortionist, they will help you develop and maintain good posture, build lean muscles, improve your balance and enhance your flexibility. Start with a beginning class to gently gain flexibility without pulling any muscles or hurting your joints.

Flora Richards-Gustafson has been writing professionally since 2003. She creates copy for websites, marketing materials and printed publications. Richards-Gustafson specializes in SEO and writing about small-business strategies, health and beauty, interior design, emergency preparedness and education. Richards-Gustafson received a Bachelor of Arts from George Fox University in 2003 and was recognized by Cambridge's "Who's Who" in 2009 as a leading woman entrepreneur.

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