Being flexible has a lot of advantages. From keeping your muscles loose and strong to allowing you to more easily perform intense, skilled exercises, it’s wise to practice stretching exercises for flexibility.
Fortunately, stretching for flexibility is easier than you might think! Stretches for flexibility aren’t just for ballerinas or a mild form of exercise for the elderly. In fact, many stretches to improve flexibility are actually pretty intense and take skill. Stretches can be exhausting, believe it or not.
Looking for proof?
Just try these 10 intense stretches to increase flexibility in a big way:
1. The Standing Split
- Plant both of your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Without bending your legs (as much as possible) reach for the floor until your palms are flat on the ground.
- Slowly push your left leg out behind you, keeping the rest of your body in place.
- Lift your left leg as high as you can in the air, performing what looks like a vertical split.
- Return your left leg to the ground slowly and repeat the motions with the opposite leg.
- Start by lying on your back with your arms above your head and your whole body stick straight.
- Lift both legs at the same time, keeping them straight.
- As your toes reach toward the ceiling, lift your arms up as well, forming a "V" shape with your body.
- Be sure to lift your upper torso as well to form a proper "V".
- Hold the position for 10 seconds before slowly relaxing your body and resting.
- Repeat three to five times.
3. Lying L’s
- Lying on the floor or another stable surface on your back, form a straight line with your body. Your arms should rest at your sides.
- Keeping the rest of your body in a straight line, lift just your left leg.
- Lift your left leg until it is straight up in the air like the vertical line of an "L".
- Without moving your torso or your right leg, reach for your left leg and pull it back slightly towards your chest.
- Be sure to move slowly as you perform these motions, and then slowly return to starting position and switch legs as you repeat.
4. Upright Fetal Position
- Sit on your buttocks on a flat surface with your legs out straight in front of you.
- Pull your knees up toward your chest with your hands.
- Remaining balanced on your behind, hold yourself in this upright fetal position for 10 seconds.
- Slowly return to your relaxed sitting position and then repeat.
5. Resting Lunge
- Get into position for a standard lunge, with one leg in front of you and one leg stretched out behind you.
- Being sure to keep your torso straight, dip into the lunge until your back leg is on the floor.
- Hold this position for 10 seconds as you feel the burn.
- Raise yourself back up using only your legs and keep your torso straight in the process.
- Repeat, being sure to stretch both legs out behind you alternately.
6. Ballerina Stretch
- Stand by the back of a chair, desk, or another waist-high surface, facing it.
- Lift your left leg onto the surface, keeping your right leg perfectly straight on the floor.
- Lean forward slowly, bending your torso as you reach for your left foot.
- Hold for 10 seconds and then return your foot to the ground.
- Switch legs and repeat.
7. The "T" with a Twist
- Stand on just your right foot and extend your left foot as far out straight behind you as you can.
- Lean forward, reaching out in front of you so that your body forms a "T".
- While in the "T" position, reach with both of your arms to one side, twisting your torso.
- Return to the "T" and then twist in the other direction.
- Try to hold the twist on each side for a few seconds.
- Repeat after switching legs.
8. Flamingo Pose
- Get into the "T" position.
- Bend your raised leg behind you in order to form a "U".
- Reach back with your corresponding arm to pull the raised leg higher and closer.
- Rest and repeat on the other leg.
9. Seated Twists
- Sit on your buttocks on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you and your elbows tucked in at your sides.
- Moving only your torso and arms, slowly twist from side to side.
- Hold each side twist for five seconds.
10. Sleeping Butterfly
- Get into a butterfly position while on your behind with your feet pressed flat against each other in front of you.
- Keeping your knees as close to the ground as you can, place each hand over the corresponding foot.
- Lean forward, keeping your buttocks firmly planted on the ground.
- Get your torso as close to the ground as possible.