Flexibility Training

Crossover Fitness Coaches suggest flexibility training as part of your exercise and daily routine. Flexibility training is for everyone—whether you’ve been practicing yoga for years or can’t touch your toes—because we all get tight muscles and sore joints. Improving your flexibility with gentle stretches from head to toe will help you move and feel better throughout your day. 

IMPROVING YOUR FLEXIBILITY—WHY AND HOW
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Learn. Find out about the health benefits of stretching.

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Practice. Follow along to the videos made by our Coaches.

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Let us help. We’ll work together to make a plan for you.

Expert Guidance Along the Way

  • Brendon Rearick, CFSC
    Fitness Program Manager
    Brendon is the Fitness Program Manager at Crossover. His drive to be the best version of himself led him to co-found Certified Functional Strength Coach, a fitness education company to certify trainers, for which he travels and coaches for often. Brendon holds a degree in Kinesiology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
  • Emily Jennings, CFSC, FST
    Fitness Coach
    Emily is a Certified Strength Coach and earned her Bachelor's degree in Exercise Science from LIndenwood University, where she played volleyball on scholarship. Always curious and wanting to learn more, she attended a Fascial Stretch Therapy course and many other courses that enabled her to help people move even better and feel great.
  • Jonathan Polidoro, CFSC, CSCS
    Fitness Coach
    Jon is a Fitness Coach at Crossover who earned his Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. He has extensive experience helping workers balance their hectic and stressful schedules with fitness and biometric testing. Jon believes fitness should enrich someone’s life, not consume it.
What is Flexibility?

Let’s keep it simple. Flexibility is being able to move your body through full ranges of motion without pain or limitation. For your body to move freely, your joints and muscles need to allow that movement. When flexibility is limited or painful, it is usually because joints or muscles are too tight.

Joint Flexibility

Joint Flexibility: For example, let’s look at “elbow joint flexibility.” This is also known as how much you can bend and straighten your arm at the elbow. If you can straighten your arm all the way, and then bend it fully, that is known as normal flexibility. If you can’t straighten your arm, or can only bend it a little bit, that is poor flexibility.

Muscle Flexibility

A common example is “hamstring muscle flexibility.” Your hamstrings run along the back of your thighs. Keeping your knees straight and slowly bending forward at your hips is one way to see how flexible your hamstrings are. 

For both joints and muscles, stretching is one way to improve flexibility.


Are Mobility and Flexibility the Same?

Mobility and flexibility are very similar, but they mean different things. 

Mobility is your ability to move your body using your own muscle strength. 

Mobility example

Stand on your left leg and lift your right leg up in front of you while keeping your knee straight. Do not use a strap or any assistance from your arms. This is an example of “mobility” because you are using your own muscles to lift your leg. In this case, how high you can lift your leg could be affected by how flexible you are. It can also be affected by the strength or weakness of the muscles doing the lifting. 

Flexibility is your ability to stretch your body without restriction from muscle or joint pain.

Flexibility example

Lie on your back, place a strap around your right foot, and use the strap to raise your right leg with the knee straight. In this case, you aren’t using your leg muscles to move your leg, so it’s not an example of mobility. But, like in the example above, how high your leg goes will be limited by your flexibility. If muscles on the back of your body are flexible, you’ll be able to pull your leg higher using your arms and the strap.

Use These Stretching Tips

Move Then Stretch

Stretching as part of your cool down after exercise is ideal. But if you like to use it as a warmup too, move your body to increase your circulation first. This is especially important if you have been sitting for a long time. Walk or do other light activity for 5–10 minutes, then stretch. 

Slow And Steady

As you try different stretches, note which ones work best for your body. Over time, your routine might change as you become more flexible. The key is to be patient, stay consistent, and build gradually.

Don’t Force It

If you are feeling particularly stiff, don’t push it! Listen to your body. You can decrease the intensity of the stretch and the duration of the hold depending on how you feel. Don’t force yourself to always achieve the same amount of motion every time you stretch. The flexibility of your muscles and joints might be different every day. It depends on if you’ve been sitting still for a long time, your stress level, recent workouts, and other factors.

Try A Yoga Class

Yoga is great for improving both your flexibility and mobility. Here are some great on-demand yoga classes to try. You can do yoga as a workout or as part of your cool down.

Intro to Vinyasa Flow with Olivia

Yoga Class with Allison

Intermediate Vinyasa Flow with Olivia

Advanced Vinyasa Flow with Olivia

Stretch With A Purpose

Relax, Breathe, Stretch!

Some of the tension you feel when stretching or moving is actually a nervous system reaction. Breathing deeply but comfortably—not forcing large breaths—can help relieve tension while stretching. Trying a full, smooth exhale can allow you to move deeper into a stretch.

Also remember to relax the areas that you are not stretching. For example, avoid tensing the muscles of your face, neck, or shoulders when stretching your legs. Relaxing other parts of your body will make it easier to hold the stretch for as long as you want.

Breathing for Stress Relief

Breathing for Stress Relief (PDF)


Target Your Troublespots

Start by stretching the major muscle groups within your upper and lower body. There are many ways to stretch your body. Check out the below examples to get started:

Chest and Shoulders

Wall Stretch for Chest

Snow Angels for Chest and Shoulders

Wall Angels for Chest and Shoulders 

Back and Hips

Mid-Back Mobility

World’s Greatest Stretch 

World’s Greatest Stretch PDF

Legs

Front of Thigh Stretch

Back of Thigh Stretch

 Back of Thigh Stretch PDF 

Calf Stretch


Different Day, Different Stretch

Depending on what your day is like, you may need to change up your stretching routine to help your body relax and feel less tense. Some examples are below!

Work at a desk all day?

You might need to spend a little extra time stretching the front of your hips,  hamstrings, calves, and chest muscles. You might also try this standing postural reset:

Postural Reset

Stand most of the day?

Your lower back may need some lengthening stretches. It might also feel good to do some side stretches and a forward fold to loosen up your hamstrings. 

Notice a lot of tension in a specific area?

Start with a series of shorter, lower intensity stretches. As the stretch becomes more comfortable, you can gradually increase the hold time and intensity, and do less of them. 

Perform a lot of repetitive movements for work?

You might benefit from gentle movements in the other direction. For example, if you work at a computer keyboard all day, you may need to open your chest. And if you bend forward to pick things up all day,  part of your stretching routine might include some gentle movements to bend your body backwards. See the below example:

Prone Press Up

Stay Loose Techniques

Sometimes our muscles can get tight in certain areas. You can release tension in a targeted way with things like a foam roller, tennis ball, or electronic massager. Remember, when using these tools, more pressure is not necessarily better! The goal is to loosen any “knots” and help your muscles feel more flexible. Mild to moderate discomfort is normal while you are applying pressure but, overall, these tools should make you feel better and not cause any lingering pain.


Foam Roll Massage

There are a lot of different foam rollers you can use, and they can be used in many ways. When rolling out your muscles, use a comfortable amount of pressure and adjust as you go. More isn’t always better! Below are some videos on how to roll specific muscles.

Foam Roller Massage – Lats

Foam Roller Massage – Mid-Back

Foam Roller Massage – Glutes

Foam Roller Massage – Front of Thigh

Foam Roller Massage – Inner Thigh

 Foam Roller Massage – Back of Thigh

Foam Roller Massage – Calf


Tennis or Lacrosse Ball Massage

Sometimes, it’s more helpful to massage a muscle using a tennis ball or lacrosse ball. These will help apply deeper pressure to tight muscles. Remember, more isn’t always better! Watch the video below to learn how to massage your leg and foot with a ball.

Yoga Ball Rollout – Lower Leg and Foot


Electronic Massagers

There are many types of electronic massage devices. Just like when using a foam roller or massage ball, use a comfortable amount of pressure and for a limited amount of time. The goal is to feel better, not worse, afterward. 

  • For smaller muscles, such as those along your forearms, start with a shorter length of massage time, such as 30-60 seconds. Pause, see how things feel, and then continue if you feel more time would be helpful. 
  • For larger muscles like those in your legs, you might start with 1-2 minutes. During these massage times, you can move the massager along the muscle if you are using a hand held device. 

As you gain experience using these devices, take note of how much time and pressure works the best for you; these will likely vary with different muscles.

Feel Benefits of Stretching

Move Smoothly

Many joints in your body naturally have a lubricating fluid in the space where the bones meet. This fluid nourishes joints and keeps them healthy. Simply moving a joint throughout its range of motion can help. So, if you’re sitting still for long periods, make sure to move around every so often to keep your joints happy.

Move Freely

When a muscle is tight, other areas of your body might have to work harder to make up for it. The extra work can make your muscles tired. Your body can also feel like it isn’t as balanced. To avoid larger, long-term issues, target tightness when you feel it. Stretch regularly to keep your body moving freely. 

Stress Less

When you have a “knot” in a muscle, or one area is really tight, you can even feel it when you’re resting. This might even keep you from moving naturally and pain-free. Stretching regularly can help you feel less stress in your body.

How a Crossover Fitness Coach Can Help

We know that improving flexibility is hard and change takes time, but we also know it is worth it. If you would like a partner alongside you, please contact a Crossover Fitness Coach for help. Let’s schedule a time to talk about your goals and how to achieve them with a personalized plan tailored just for you. To get started, simply send us a message.

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