In short, absolutely yes.

Before delving into this further, it may be helpful to define flexibility:

Flexibility is the range of motion at a single joint or a collection of joints. More simply, stretching a part of your body involves certain muscles lengthening and relaxing. The process of increasing this range of movement requires both patience and commitment. With practice, we can elongate our muscles over time and become more flexible at any age.

It’s true that flexibility is achieved over a period of time. Of course, those who have been involved in activities that require a high level of flexibility from a young age are more likely to find it easier to maintain or re-achieve their flexibility later in their lives. However, our muscles can “learn” this skill at an older age through consistent and targeted training. When we stretch a certain muscle, it elongates. This muscle lengthening is short-lived but if we stretch frequently then this change will become more permanent over time.

So what steps can you take to start working on your flexibility?

Firstly there are many factors you can control to improve your performance while stretching. Make sure to include a warm-up, warm muscles are more supple and elastic which will make you, therefore, less prone to injury during your stretch. Also, a sedentary lifestyle decreases your range of motion and fitness level in general so as you begin to work on your flexibility it’s important not to sit over your laptop for too long. Try setting a timer to get up and walk intermittently to allow your muscles to move. Being well-rested and having a good night’s sleep will also give you more energy, increase your stamina and allow your body to rest and repair properly.

Where should I start?

Plan a short stretch routine to practice daily which includes all the key muscle groups: arms and shoulders, chest, back, legs and glutes to help develop your flexibility in all areas. Try simple stretches such as across-body shoulder stretch, extended puppy position, child’s pose, downward dog, figure 4 stretch and cat and cow spinal movement. These are mostly passive stretches which you should hold for 30-60 seconds each, but it’s important to also include active stretching to ensure you develop strength and control over your flexibility. All Flexology classes include both so book a class to learn how!

How often should I stretch?

There are varying opinions on how often you should stretch to increase your flexibility. As someone who has endured long-lasting injuries as a result of over-stretching, I’ve learnt to listen to my body. Don’t stretch until it hurts. Don’t push through the pain to achieve results. Injured muscles can take a long time to heal and set you back considerably. Flexibility training can be slightly uncomfortable at times, but it shouldn’t be painful.

Be consistent and above all, be patient with yourself. Building flexibility is a long-term commitment to your body. Be kind to yourself and enjoy the journey.

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