4 tips for gaining flexibility
Libby Hucker of @lib_yoga, a registered nurse, certified yoga teacher and total yoga queen, knows a thing or two about flexibility – and this flexy-goddess has put together a few tips to help you get your bendy on, a few poses to get you on your way to flexy-city, and gave us some humbling reminders about our anatomy.
As a registered nurse, Libby works with a lot of elderly people and tells us that the people who have looked after themselves by remaining flexible vastly stand out. “These elderly people are more independent, have more confidence and seem happier overall. Now, I’m not talking about that 90-year-old lady doing the splits – I’m talking about seeing elderly people being able to reach down and pull up their sock or bend over to grab something from the floor,” she says.
“Many factors affect your flexibility,” Libby tells us, “including your genetics, gender, and body type. Even your skeleton will affect your flexibility. Some people can do the middle splits, meaning they have the right rage of movement in their hip joints. Other people will never be able to get into the splits – simply due to their hip anatomy.”
Tension and compression come into play when we are looking to gain flexibility. “Tension is where you want to be, tension is stretching,” says Libby. “Compression is bone on bone. Have you been trying to do the splits for years, stretching every day and getting no closer? You are most likely in compression – meaning due to the shape of your skeleton, you can’t go any further. Congratulations! You have found your limit!”
“You need to be aware of your personal limit and leave your ego at the door. The point of retaining some flexibility is to make life easier. There is no need to do the splits unless you are in Cirque du Soleil,” Libby tells us.
Here are a few ways to help you gain the kind of flexibility that matters – the kind that will improve your life. “Make sure you take your time – there is no rush. When you rush is when injuries happen. Go slow, look after yourself and take note of how amazing you feel after a good stretch session,” says Libby.
Stretch every day
This is the easiest and the best way to get flexible. Try to hold your stretches for at least 5 deep breaths, even use your stretching time as a time of meditation.
Get on the hot yoga train if you can handle the heat. It allows your muscles to relax and you’ll notice you become flexible a lot faster.
Practice yin yoga
This is the type of yoga where you hold each pose for 3-5 minutes sometimes even longer. Sounds scary – but, trust us, it’s not. Yin yoga classes are usually dimly lit and very relaxing, most of the poses are done lying down and there are pillows involved.
Stretch with a pal
Partner stretching can help you achieve a greater degree of flexibility and range of motion. A partner can also provide motivation and help you mix up your flow.
Libby’s fave poses for flexibility
- Pigeon pose to king pigeon pose
- Dancers pose
- Downward dog
- Lizard pose
- Wheel pose