Good flexibility is not just an enviable trait exhibited by athletes and performing artists, but it can be a part of each of our lives. Exercises designed to improve flexibility can be good for the body's overall health as well as reducing levels of stress and improving circulation. It can take a long time, sometimes even years, to greatly improve flexibility, and a consistent, daily effort is required. It doesn't take a long time to start seeing the benefits of flexibility exercises, even if the ultimate goal seems a long way off.
The most important step toward improved flexibility is to make it a daily pursuit. Even missing just one day can be a significant setback, so consistency and patience are paramount. It is also a good idea to vary the stretches that you do when trying to improve flexibility. This will not only help more than one set of muscles become flexible, but it will also serve to break the potential monotony of doing the same stretches over and over again.
When you stretch, you are pushing your muscles to limits they are not used to reaching. Carelessness can lead to injuries and pain, so be sure to stretch in safe, natural positions. A mild burning feeling is normal and healthy, but stop if you feel any sudden pain. This is usually a warning sign from the body that injury is imminent.
Normal discomfort can be alleviated by breathing deeply while stretching, since this delivers the oxygen that muscles need so much during that time. Breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth is best. It may be also beneficial to use a chair or other sturdy object for balance while stretching, and to help you distribute your weight more effectively.
The stretching routines used by each person will vary, but should focus on each major muscle group to some extent. Though it may take time to improve flexibility in the way that you want to, most people only need to dedicate ten to 15 minutes per day to stretching exercises to achieve this goal. Also, many people notice a significant difference in flexibility in the first two weeks. While this can be satisfying, it can be tempting to stop once some progress has been made. The best way to avoid this is to go into it with the mindset that stretching exercises will be a daily part of your life from now on, not only to improve flexibility, but overall health and well-being also.