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5 simple steps to increase flexibility

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Incorporating regular stretching into your fitness regimen will make you more flexible and decrease your risk of injury.

Incorporating regular stretching into your fitness regimen will make you more flexible and decrease your risk of injury.

Remember the days when you and all of your friends could slide into splits or touch your nose to your knees? Flexibility is a gift that you don’t appreciate until it’s gone! As you age, you’ll likely find that you become increasingly less flexible unless you take steps to keep yourself limber.

While somersaults and splits on the playground may no longer be a part of your daily routine, staying lithe is an important part of avoiding injuries no matter your activity level. If you’ve noticed that you’re not as flexible as you used to be, follow these five steps to incorporate more stretching into your daily routine.

1. Stretch tight muscles
While they may not be fun, tight muscles are a great reminder to stretch daily. In addition to helping increase your flexibility, Prevention magazine reported that stretching is a great way to release tension in your body after a long day. Listen to your muscles. When they’re tight, set aside some time to stretch and release that tension. It’s a natural reminder to be consistent.

2. Incorporate stretches into your routine 
It’s especially important to start stretching if you already have a regular workout routine, as flexibility can help minimize your risk of injuries while exercising. But be careful not to stretch while your muscles are cold. Go on a short jog or spend five to 10 minutes on the treadmill or elliptical to warm up before you stretch to make sure you don’t tear a muscle.

3. Take up morning yoga
Break up your normal stretching routine with some yoga in the morning. Find specific poses that you can do at home that target areas of your body that lack flexibility. If possible, consider signing up for a class in your area to ensure that you remain consistent. This is especially important if you’ve never done yoga before, as the instructor will be able to give you feedback and let you know if you’re doing anything incorrectly. Bad form can lessen effectiveness of your stretches or even cause an injury.

While you can do yoga at any time, getting in a few poses in the morning will help wake up your mind and body for the rest of the day. Plus, you won’t run the risk of forgetting to do it later in the day.

4. Make it a priority 
Like any area of your physical fitness, stretching takes time. You may not notice an immediate difference, but if you stick with it, you’ll love the results. Use your favorite Baby-G digital or analog watch to set aside 10 minutes a day to dedicate entirely to stretching. One of the pink series watches will help you keep track of time while adding a feminine touch to your outfit.

5. Use caution
You might get a bit of a burn when you stretch, but it shouldn’t hurt. Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. The Mayo Clinic reported that you should expect tension, but if you experience pain that means you’ve gone too far and should back off to the point where it no longer hurts. Hold the stretch in that position for at least 30 seconds. Pain definitely isn’t gain when it comes to your flexibility.

If you have an injury or chronic health concern, consider talking to your doctor or physical therapist before attempting new stretches that target your problem area. A medical professional will be able to advise you on how to best increase your flexibility without further injuring yourself in the process.

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