Five Flexibility Exercises: Fit Check

Stretch out those creaky joints with these exercises recommended by Kimberly Wilson, owner of Tranquil Space

There’s one in every yoga or Pilates class: The person next to you who can contort his or her body into a pretzel-like state, while you’re breaking a sweat just trying to touch your toes.

It can be discouraging, but flexibility is something that everyone is capable of—it just takes some patience and effort. While the benefits of stretching remains debatable, no one can argue that being at least somewhat flexible around the joints can only help reduce the risk of injury.

“The beauty about flexibility is that it helps lengthen out the muscles which can be bulked when we’re lifting weights, running, or doing anything that tends to bring about a sense of strengthening,” says Kimberly Wilson, founder and yoga instructor of Tranquil Space. “It helps us feel more relaxed and less tight.”

Here are five stretching exercises recommended by Wilson that will help those creaky joints and increase your flexibility over time.

Exercise 1: Forward Fold
Muscle area: Hamstrings
Reps: Hold stretch for one to three minutes

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees if you’re tight in the hamstrings. Bend forward towards your toes. Let the arms hang down or fold them. If you feel any discomfort in the back, bend your knees and hang. If your shoulders are tight, raise your arms behind your back and interlace your fingers. Use a strap or a tie of you can’t connect your hands. Hold for one to three minutes. Bend knees and roll up slowly, one vertebrae at a time.

Exercise 2: Downward Facing Dog
Muscle area: Total body
Reps: Hold for three to ten breaths.

Start in the Forward Fold position. You can keep your hands on your shins. Step both feet back so your body forms an upside-down V shape. Spread fingers wide, and work to press your heels toward the ground. Hold for three to ten deep breaths.

See Also:

Yoga Poses Decoded

Pilates for Beginners

Top Yoga Instructors in Washington

Exercise 3: Deep Lunge
Muscle area: Wrists, shoulders, calves, hamstrings, and achilles tendon
Reps: Hold for three to ten breaths

Start on your hands and knees (also known as tabletop position). Move into Downward Facing Dog position. Lift your right leg to the sky, then place the right foot in between your hands. Drop the left knee down, and place hands on your knees. Rest here and stretch.

Exercise 4: Baddha Konasana
Muscle area: Hips, groin, and back
Reps: Hold for three to ten breaths

Sit tall on the ground and with the bottom of your feet touching one another. Ideally, your knees should drop down below the hips. But if they don’t drop, sit on a pillow. Inhale, then exhale while bending over, walking your hands forward. Place a a pillow underneath each knee if you have trouble bending forward.

Exercise 5: Eagle Arms
Muscle area: Arms
Reps: Circle three to ten times each way

Sit in the Baddha Konasana position. Cross the right arm under the left like an X. Bend the arms at the elbows with your palms facing you. Lift your arms so your elbows and chin align. Trace circles clockwise and counterclockwise three to ten times. Release, cross the left arm under the right and repeat.

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