Did you know that flexibility can help reduce pain and stiffness? Have you been looking for ways to improve your flexibility? Here are 5 stretches designed to help.
A common misconception is that exercise causes pain. The real issue of pain is often rooted in a lack of flexibility. Flexibility is about the mobility of joints and the muscles’ ability to move freely around, giving them the ability to achieve their full range of motion. When we lack this essential tool of flexibility, the body sends misinformation on how to move.
Our bodies’ are capable of adapting to this limited range of motion, but over time it can lead to compromised body positions and posture. Hence, more pain. In other words, flexibility is the mechanism that allows your body to move without restriction. When a mobility restriction is present, our joints begin to deal with inflammation, stiffness, and pain.
What if we could combat this stiffness and reduce pain just by stretching every day? Well, you can! Perry Fine, MD, a board member at the American Pain Foundation says, “Everybody can do something.” She explains that exercise helps to reduce the perception of pain and to overcome limited mobility and functioning. She encourages this trend: Get moving, feel better.
Did you know that you don’t necessarily need to be in a gym to reap these benefits of flexibility? You can work on improving your flexibility in the comfort of your own home!
Directions: Get into a nice, comfortable stretch. Hold it for 15-30 seconds. Breathe Deeply. Rinse. Repeat.
5 Stretches to Increase Your Flexibility
Here are some stretches that play a major role in increasing flexibility.They can be performed by anyone, anywhere:
1. Seated Overhead Stretch: (Targets: Shoulders)
Sit with your back straight in a chair and feet planted firmly on the ground. Relax your arms at your sides. Slowly lift your arms straight in front of you and interlace your fingers. While maintaining straight arms, continue raising your arms above your head. Hold the highest position you can manage without pain for 15 seconds, then lower your arms down to the starting position. Repeat 3-5 times.
2. Seated Side-to-Side Stretch (Targets: Back & Abdominals)
Sitting upright with your feet shoulder-width apart, put your hands on the back of your head with both elbows bent in opposite directions. Slowly bend at the waist to drop the left elbow towards your left side until you feel a stretch in the right side of your body. Do the same motion on the right side, feeling the stretch in your left side. Hold each for 10 seconds and repeat for 5-10 times on each side.
3. Knee-to-Chest Stretch (Targets: Knees, Quadriceps & Lower back)
Lay on the floor with your legs extended and arms at your sides. Bend your left knee, and with both hands grab your left thigh and start slowly pulling it towards your chest. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds. Release your leg back to flat on the ground. Repeat on the other side for a total of 5 times each side.
4. Fold Over Stretch (Targets: Neck, Back, Calves, Hamstrings, Glutes)
Stand upright with feet positioned hip-width apart. Bend your knees slightly (or as much as is comfortable). Bend forward at the hips and lower your head towards the ground. While keeping your head, shoulders, and neck relaxed, wrap your arms around the back of your legs and hold the stretch for up to one minute. To release the stretch, bend knees deeper and roll up slowly, having your head be the last thing to come up.
5. Relaxed Lunge (Targets: Hip flexors, Quadriceps, and Hamstrings)
Kneel on the floor with your shins on the floor. Lunge forward with your left leg forward so the left knee is bent at a 90-degree angle in front of you. The left foot should be flat on the floor, directly under your knee. Right shin remains on the floor. Place your hands on the top of your left knee and press away, pushing your hips forward and keeping your back upright. Hold for 30 seconds and release. Switch legs and repeat 3 times on each side.
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