The Right Program for Increasing Your Flexibility

The Right Program for Increasing Your Flexibility

Do you feel stiff or just a little rusty? Have you thought about stretching as a solution? There's no secret to becoming flexible and staying that way: you have to stretch! And that’s the aim of this discipline that we suggest you try out with a flexibility program of 9 exercises.

Extend yourself with a stretching session. This gives your body and mind a break and time to unwind. Sometimes we want to increase our flexibility to fight against certain aches and pains or to feel better in our daily movements. Discover stretching exercises that you can incorporate into your sports routine.

What’s the point of stretching?

It's a never-ending debate: does stretching work for preserving and maintaining muscles? Before or after exercise? Let’s throw some light on the subject.

Become flexible with stretching

- Working on your flexibility can save you from numerous conditions, but that's not all. It also:

- Improves muscular strength by expanding the range of movement.

- Improves recovery.

- Reduces the risk of injury.

- Relieves joint and muscular strains.

- Become more flexible and less stiff.

Flexibility refers to the ability to perform body movements with the widest joint and muscle range possible on our different muscle groups.

Warm-up (5 minutes)

Your body will become more mobile with the stretching program proposed below, giving you more range in your movements. The warm-up phase is always recommended to prepare the body and mind for activity.

1. Inhale then raise the arms above the head. Breathe out then relax the arms. Do the same movement 7 times.

2. Inhale then raise the arms above the head, stand on the balls of your feet, breathe out, relax and push the chest forwards. Repeat this same exercise 5 times.

3. Inhale and raise the arms, stand on the balls of your feet then breathe out and completely relax the chest all the way down. Slowly unfold the back, vertebra by vertebra.

Some exercises for joint mobility

Complete the warm-up phase then perform a few exercises for joint mobility: this will unlock the joints and slightly increase the body temperature.

- Movement of the ankle joint through rotation.

- Wrist movement.

- Forward and back circular movements of the shoulders.

- Pelvis movement and rotation.

- Neck movement by making small circles with the head.

- Tilting the chest right and left.

Stretching for the upper body (back)

Exercise 1: round back / hollow back

Target muscles: the abdominal muscles on the hollow back, the spine on the round back.

Performing the exercise: position yourself on all fours: hands underneath the shoulders (width of your shoulders) and knees underneath the hips (width of your pelvis). Your back is flat. Perform a hollow back by stretching the spinal column and aiming your nose towards the sky. Then a round back by looking at your navel.

Breathing: Inhale, hollow your back. Exhale, round your back. Feel the movement of each of your vertebra and your pelvis.

Repetition: 5 times alternately round back / hollow back.

Exercise 2: chest stretch (lying face down on the floor)

Target muscles: stretch the abdominals and movement of the spinal column.

Performing the exercise: lying on the stomach, hands each side of the chest, push down on the floor to raise the chest. Lower the shoulders, look forward. Unblock the area between the shoulders and the ears and relax your buttocks. If you feel a pinch in the lower back, move the thighs a little more off the floor.

Breathing: Inhale on the opening of the body and exhale on the return.

Repetition: 5 times, each time staying in position for 30 seconds.

Exercise 3: Child’s Pose

Target muscles: Relaxation of the back muscles.

Performing the exercise: place your buttocks on your heels and stretch your arms as far as possible in front of you. Keep your hands flat on the floor with the fingers pointing forward.

Breathing: Inhale then exhale while stretching your arms further for maximum extension of your spinal column.

Repetition: hold the position 3 times for 30 seconds

Stretching for the lower body

Exercise 1: stretching the buttocks

Target muscles: buttocks (gluteus minimus, medius and maximus).

Performing the exercise: in a lying position, place your ankle on your opposite knee and grab the back of your thigh or shin (depending on your level of flexibility). Remember to relax the upper body throughout the stretch.

Breathing: inhale then exhale while moving your knee towards your chest.

Repetition: 3 times for 30 seconds on each side.

Exercise 2: stretching the adductor muscles

Target muscles: adductor muscles. (inner thighs)

Performing the exercise: lying on your mat, buttocks against the wall, spread your legs as wide as possible while still touching the wall. You should feel a stretch on the inner thigh.

Breathing: inhale then exhale when relaxing your legs to the side.

Repetition: hold the position 3 times for 30 seconds.

Gentle gymnastics

Touch your feet without straining, are your legs fully stretched? Want to strengthen the abdominal wall without sweating buckets? Is this possible? Try gentle gymnastics. Gently strengthen and stretch your body.

Exercise 3: quadriceps stretch in standing position

Target muscles: the 4 quadriceps chiefs (vastus medialis, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius and rectus femoris).

Performing the exercise: in standing position, grab your instep and move your heel to your buttocks. Make sure that your pelvis stays central and slightly tipped forward to feel the maximum stretch on the front of your thigh. If you’re not comfortable with balance then you can perform this stretch lying down on the stomach.

Breathing: slow, controlled breathing throughout this exercise.

Repetition: Do 3 x 30 stretches on each side and try to increase the range with each set.

Exercise 4: stretching the psoas

Target muscles: iliopsoas on the hip.

Performing the exercise: take a split stance position, the back knee resting on the floor and the front knee in line with the ankle.

Breathing: Inhale then exhale while tipping your pelvis down and forwards. Once in position, keep your breathing calm and controlled so you feel the stretch on the muscle insertions in the hip.

Repetition: do 2 sets (30 to 45 seconds) for each leg.

Exercise 5: hamstring stretch

Target muscles: hamstring (1/2 membranous + 1/2 sinewy + biceps femoris).

Performing the exercise: in standing position, one leg stretched with the foot flexed and the other slightly flexed. The weight of the body is on the back leg. Move the toes of the stretched legs towards you while pointing the buttocks to the sky.

Breathing: inhale then exhale while tipping your chest forward from the hips. You should feel the stretch at the back of your extended leg.

Repetition: do 2 sets (30 to 45 seconds) for each leg.

Exercise 6: stretching the calves

Target muscles: calf muscles (lateral and medial gastrocnemius + soleus = triceps surae).

Performing the exercise: take a forward split stance position (one leg flexed in front and one leg stretched behind).

Breathing: inhale then exhale while pushing your back heel into the floor to feel the stretch at the back of your leg.

Repetition: do 2 sets (30 to 45 seconds) for each leg.

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