How to Improve Your Flexibility
Stretching exercises give you more freedom of movement to do the things
you need to do and the things you like to do. Stretching exercises alone can
improve your flexibility, but they will not improve your endurance or strength.
Much, How Often?Stretch
after you do your regularly scheduled strength and endurance
If you can't do endurance or
strength exercises for some reason, and stretching exercises are the only
kind you are able to do, do them at least 3 times a week, for at least 20
minutes each session.
Do each stretching exercise 3 to
5 times at each session.
Slowly stretch into the desired
position, as far as possible without pain, and hold the stretch for 10 to
30 seconds. Relax, then repeat, trying to stretch farther.
SafetyIf you have
had a hip replacement, check with your surgeon before doing lower body
If you have had a hip
replacement, don't cross your legs or bend your hips past a 90-degree
Always warm up before stretching
exercises (do them after endurance or strength exercises, for example; or,
if you are doing only stretching exercises on a particular day, do a
little bit of easy walking and arm-pumping first). Stretching your muscles
before they are warmed up may result in injury.
Stretching should never cause
pain, especially joint pain. If it does, you are stretching too far, and
you need to reduce the stretch so that it doesn't hurt.
Mild discomfort or a mild pulling
sensation is normal.
Never "bounce" into a stretch;
make slow, steady movements instead. Jerking into position can cause
muscles to tighten, possibly resulting in injury.
Avoid "locking" your joints into
place when you straighten them during stretches. Your arms and legs should
be straight when you stretch them, but don't lock them in a tightly
straight position. You should always have a very small amount of bending
in your joints while stretching.
can progress in your stretching exercises; the way to know how to limit
yourself is that stretching should never hurt. It may feel slightly
uncomfortable, but not painful. Push yourself to stretch farther, but not
so far that it hurts.
Most of the remaining exercises are
done on the floor and stretch some very important muscle groups. If you are
afraid to lie on the floor to exercise because you think you won't be able
to get back up, consider using the buddy system to do these. Find a buddy who
will be able to help you.
Knowing the right way to get into
a lying position on the floor and to get back up also may be helpful. If you
have had a hip replacement, check with your surgeon before using the following
method. If you have osteoporosis, check with your doctor first.
To get into a lying
- Stand next to a very sturdy
chair that won't tip over (put chair against wall for support if you
- Put your hands on the seat of
- Lower yourself down on one
- Bring the other knee
- Put your left hand on the
floor and lean on it as you bring your left hip to the floor.
- Your weight is now on your
- Straighten your legs
- Lie on your left side.
- Roll onto your
Note: You don't have to use your left side. You can use your
right side, if you prefer.
To get up
from a lying position:
- Roll onto your left
- Use your right hand, placed on
the floor at about the level of your ribs, to push your shoulders off
- Your weight is on your left
- Roll forward, onto your knees,
leaning on your hands for support.
- Lean your hands on the seat of
the chair you used to lie down.
- Lift one of your knees so that
one leg is bent, foot flat on the floor.
Leaning your hands on the seat of
the chair for support, rise from this position.
Note: You don't have
to use your left side; you can reverse positions, if you