Well, folks, we’ve come to the final day of the March flexibility challenge. How did it go?
A month is a short time. Even by the end of our flexibility challenge, you may not find that you’ve made a ton of progress. But every little bit helps, and it’s inspiring to see the progress of people who have been working on their stretching for years.
Holding a stretch for 30 seconds isn’t the only way to improve your flexibility—it’s just the way a lot of us are used to. Dynamic stretching is another approach, combining gentle stretches with movements that often challenge your balance or strength as well.
Zero exercise is not enough. Going for a walk every day is probably a good thing. And if you’re training for a marathon, you’ll be on your feet for a couple hours of hard workouts every week. But what is the benchmark for a human being just trying to squeeze enough healthy exercise into their life? Let’s break it down.
We’re just about a week into the March fitness challenge, working on our flexibility. Here’s your check-in thread: how’s it going?
Our past two challenges were all about getting stronger, but this month we’re going to do something a little different. We’re getting stretchy.
Maybe you need something to warm you up now that there’s a chill in the air. Maybe you’ve heard that hot yoga is relaxing. Or maybe you want to try something that’s challenging and yet, in some ways, easier: your muscles are more flexible when they’re warm. Welcome to hot yoga.
If you’ve never done yoga, it looks intimidating. People are flexible, fit, trendily dressed—wait, I might be thinking of Lululemon ads rather than actual yoga classes. It turns out you can have a great experience at a yoga class even when you’re brand new, and we asked yoga instructors how.
You don’t have to be flexible to do yoga, although it certainly helps for some poses. But there are plenty of moves you can do even if you have the world’s tightest hamstrings. We love this list from Health that spotlights great beginner poses that don’t require much flexibility to get started. Here are a few to try:
If you’re inflexible, you might feel like there’s no point in trying to stretch. But without stretching, how will you ever get more flexible? A session like the one in today’s video can help.
If you’ve got back pain, yoga may be the last thing you feel like doing. But after 12 weeks of a gentle, beginner-level yoga program, people in a recent study had as much pain relief as those who did physical therapy sessions. And either type of exercise worked better than doing nothing at all.
For many of us, cartwheels are a relic of our childhood. That’s unfortunate because they’re a lot of fun and a great way to improve our coordination, strength, and flexibility, too. Here’s how you can roll and tumble around like a cartwheeling pro again.
You can do the most amazing warm-up, flexibility, and mobility routines, but you still spend a ton more time not doing those things, which could literally be a pain in the neck. Whether you’re sitting, standing, or lying on your side, Adam Bornstein of Born Fitness shares some tips to quickly right your posture.
Your calves and ankles are under-appreciated muscles that work hard to keep your body steady and balanced while you’re standing, walking, or running. You might already be stretching your calves, but GMB shows you how to do them properly.
Despite the weird name, “deadbug”s work your core unlike any other exercise. Crunches and sit-ups do very little to resist letting your back arch and “extend,” which can then contribute to posture problems and low back, knee, and hip pain. This is where deadbugs come in.
Being able to touch your toes definitely means you’re flexible, but it’s also a fair indicator of how well you can lift heavy objects, move around in everyday life, and squat or deadlift in the weight room. If you can’t reach your toes, these exercises will help.
Breaking up long hours of sitting at your work desk with stretching or walking breaks sounds very nice in theory, but regularly putting it into practice is easier said than done. Well, here’s a yoga routine that takes you only three minutes to complete. Plus, you don’t even have to leave your desk.
Traditionally, you learn to squat from top to bottom, but as we mentioned in our squat primer, many variables can limit your ability to squat well or to depth. For some, bad flexibility in the upper back, ankles, hips, and calves are to blame, but it’s also insufficient practice. These drills help you work on both.
When it comes to desired traits in fitness, raw strength and speed often overshadow mobility, or how well your joints move. Maybe you just don’t think you’re that “bend-y.” Fortunately, it’s a process that contributes to strength, and everyone can work on it.
Yoga can be more than a relaxing way to spend a rest day. It can be a challenge in itself: you can build serious strength working up to impressive poses like Crow or Dancer.