Q:

How can you become more flexible?

A:

Quick Answer

To become more flexible, follow a routine of stretching the major muscle groups for at least 10 minutes a day. A short warm-up to improve blood circulation makes stretching safer and more effective.

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Full Answer

A couple of minutes of light exercise, such as jumping jacks or stair climbing, is recommended to warm the muscles before beginning to stretch. Remember to breathe evenly throughout each stretch, especially if inverting the head and shoulders below the heart level.

Focus on the muscle groups that need more flexibility, such as the back, shoulders and neck, or hamstrings, hips and calves. Move into the stretching position until resistance is felt, then hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds. Bouncing is not recommended, because it can damage tendons and muscles.

Take advantage of short breaks to stretch small areas that are overlooked during the regular stretching routine. Areas such as hands, fingers, wrists and forearms can be stretched while washing the hands at a sink. Ankles, toes and the bottoms of the feet can be gently and unobtrusively stretched while sitting at a desk, driving or waiting in a line.

Yoga classes can also help improve flexibility. If an injury or illness is making stretching difficult, consult a physical therapist or physician.

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