Stay Flexible. Try These Exercises At Home
Even to do our day-to-day movements and physical functions properly, we require flexibility
Technically speaking, flexibility is the range of movement around a joint. It is interdependent on various factors, such as gender. Women, for instance are more flexible than men, whether you have tight or loose ligaments, tight and shortened or weak muscles, level of activity, hydration, age, disease and injury history. For optimal day-to-day functions, we require flexibility and can work towards improving it. Over-flexibility is as detrimental as poor flexibility. One requires patience and dedication to get long-lasting results.
Dedicate at least 3-5 half-hour sessions every week to work on your flexibility, preferably not immediately after a heavy workout. A walk or cycling for 30-60 minutes is a good practice before stretching.
You will need a mat, comfortable clothing and a belt or a yoga band.
There are two basic types of flexibility—dynamic and static. Dynamic flexibility permits the body to get ready for the actual workout. It has to be done as a part of the limbering up prior to a workout. It is done in repetitions and the body moves constantly, taking the limb to its maximum level of flexibility.
Static flexibility, however, is done post-workout or on its own where a limb is held in a position of stretch for 15 seconds and more. This has long-term benefits.
Both dynamic and static flexibility contribute towards functional flexibility, which enable us to bend, straighten, pull, push, lift, carry, twist and turn with ease and without discomfort, in our day-to-day activities.
While at home during the lockdown, try these flexibility exercises:
Hold the belt/yoga band in both hands. Hands should be shoulder-width apart. Inhale as you lift the belt overhead. The arms need to stretch beyond your ears. Hold this pose for 10 long deep breaths and relax.
Bring your arms forward with the belt in your hands. Legs should be shoulder-width apart and knees soft. Rotate the torso to the right, hold it for 10 breaths, rotate to the left, and hold for 10 breaths.
Lift both your arms up. As you exhale, bend forward to touch your toes. Those with back issues should avoid the exercise. People with poor flexibility can place their hands on their thighs or a raised surface instead of touching their toes. They can reach for their toes when they get more flexible.
Interlock your fingers with your arms held behind you. Stretch the arms away from your body and slightly upwards so that you can to feel the stretch in the chest area and the arms.
Place one knee on the mat, like in a lunge position. Push the pelvis forward and feel the stretch in front of the hip area. Hands can rest on your front thigh. Hold this for at least 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Sit on the mat and stretch both the legs forward. Keep the toes turned towards you. If you can hold the toes and bend forward,do so. Else, use a belt. Place the belt around your feet and bend only as low as you can to feel the stretch in the back of your thighs and calves. Beginners can do the stretch one leg at a time.
Cross your legs. Now, placing your right hand on your left leg, twist your torso to the left. Breathe deeply and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
From the cross-legged position, place both your hands on the mat in front of you and bend forward. This will stretch the hip and lower back area. Hold this for 30 seconds and repeat thrice.
Stretch both the legs forward and point the toes away from you and hold this for 10 breaths. Turn the toes towards you and hold it for 10 breaths.
Nisha Varma is an American College of Sports Medicine-certified exercise physiologist based in Pune.