Have you ever struggled with your flexibility?
I'm right there with you. Sometimes I feel that I was born inflexible. I've struggled with flexibility my whole life, even during my dance career. When other dancers did their splits without any effort at all, I was on the other side of the room still 6 inches from the floor.
It's tough! Especially because I'm a dance teacher and personal trainer. I'm supposed to be a good example for my students/clients. Here's the thing...
Flexibility is achievable even if you're not "naturally" flexible.
Throughout my years of learning various ways to increase flexibility, I've learned that it is achievable for even the most stiff of persons. Through massage, gentle stretching, good posture, and proper training, you can become a more flexible person.
With that said, here are some techniques that you can use to increase your own flexibility easily at home. If you would like more detailed information and some extra help in this area, I recommend that you check out my book, A Dancer's Diary. There is a whole chapter dedicated to helping you understand flexibility and why it so important. Plus, you will also find some great massage and stretching tips.
1. Tennis Ball Massage
This is my favorite way to increase flexibility. I love how it feels and it relaxes me. Take a tennis ball and place it on your glutes, hamstrings, shoulders, calves, feet, and back muscles. Anywhere you feel tight, overworked muscles. By releasing these muscles (especially the glutes and feet), you are decreasing tightness in the fascia leading all the way down your legs, arms, etc. increasing flexibility.
Try to avoid the areas where your kidneys are [about an inch below your last rib]. You do not want to press in that area as you could bruise your kidneys.
2. Stretch and Breathe
Stretching is an obvious way to increase flexibility in any area of the body. Do a quick warm-up (fast walking, swimming, jumping on the trampoline, quick workout) to get your muscles warm and pliable. This will make it easier and safer for you to stretch without tearing anything.
Try using gentle stretches, holding them for 8-10 seconds. Take deep breaths releasing yourself into the stretch every time you breathe out. Repeat each stretch 2-4 times, depending on how warm you and how much time you have.
Start your day with a quick stretch. When you hop out of bed, do some dynamic (4-6 second hold) stretching to get your body moving. This will also wake you up if you're a bit groggy. Because it's getting colder, stretch while you're in bed. Do the butterfly stretch [feet together, knees out], single leg stretch [straighten one leg and bend forward], hip stretch, neck stretches, and maybe some upper back stretches.
I hope this has helped you understand that being flexible is not that difficult to achieve. If I can do it, you can too! I may not be able to do a split, but I'm working every day to reach my flexibility goals. You can do it!
Until next time,