If your New Year's resolution is to gain more flexibility, here's a quick guide to start. The time you stretch, the muscles you focus on, and your daily activities all have a play in flexibility. Your goal may be to finally get into Bridge Pose or to just reach your toes in a fold-over stretch. Whatever it may be, you can find out how to start lengthening your muscles with a few simple tips.
Level of Flexibility: You might want a more specific goal — like mastering the splits — but it may be better to first figure out how flexible you need to be in your active life. For example, runners tend to be less flexible, but they don't need to be as limber as, say, yogis. Gymnasts, on the other hand, use a more full range of motion, so flexibility can help them prevent injuries. Determine what your daily activities look like and decide what level of flexibility can enhance your life.
Main Muscle Groups: Make stretching worthwhile by making sure to always focus on the main muscle groups, which include your upper body, back, and lower body. Stretch each muscle until it starts to feel loosened up before switching to the next group. Staying in one stretch between 15 and 20 seconds is the recommended amount of time to hold a stretch. Avoid injury by always warming up before starting static stretches, either with a five-minute cardio session or dynamic stretching.
The Right Workout: Yoga, Pilates, and barre all help with flexibility because stretching the body makes up an integral component of these workouts. With any class, however, instead of running out early, take advantage of the cooldown to stretch hardworking muscles at their most pliable moment.