Flexibility exercises are a type of exercise that helps to improve the range of motion around a joint. This can help to improve flexibility and reduce the risk of injuries. Generally, flexibility exercises are ideally performed as part of a ‘warm-up’ session before other types of exercise, or on their own as a type of exercise.
The front split is an advanced flexibility exercise and so should be attempted only after the full range flexibility has been developed in the legs. Sit with your legs out straight and about 1 meter apart from each other. Then lean forward and place one palm flat on the floor between your feet and lift off your seat to rest on this hand. You can then lower down until you feel a stretch in the leg that was lifted into the air. Try to keep both hips facing forward rather than letting them twist towards each other – it can help to focus on rotating through the torso to ensure the hips stay facing forward.
The cobra is a flexibility exercise that helps with the flexibility of the spine and also stretches some muscles around the upper back and neck. Lie on your front on the floor with your palms flat beside you or under your shoulders, fingers pointing forwards or slightly backward as preferred. Push yourself up off of the floor by pushing down through your hands and lifting upwards through your chest, making sure to keep the elbows towards the side of your body rather than letting them flair outwards – this can strain ligaments in the shoulder joint if not done correctly.
The hurdler stretch flexibility exercise helps to improve the flexibility of both hip joints as well as helping to stretch muscles in the front of the hips, groin, and inner thighs. Sit on the floor with your right leg forwards and your knee pointing up towards the ceiling. Then place both hands on top of your thigh for support as you lean forwards slightly to ensure that you feel a stretch through muscles at the front of this leg. You can then repeat on the other side, but make sure to start this flexibility exercise slowly and sensibly before pushing yourself harder – if done too quickly it can lead to muscle pulls or strains.
The butterfly flexibility exercise helps flexibility in both hip joints as well as helping to improve flexibility around each groin muscle – which is helpful for any sports that require flexibility around these areas. Sit down on a flat surface with a straight back and your feet pointing forwards. Then take hold of the front of your ankles so that your legs are bent inwards as if you were going to perform a ‘criss-cross’ type movement. You can then lean forward from the hips whilst keeping the back straight until you feel a stretch across both groin muscles.
The flexibility exercise for knee circles is mainly helpful for increasing flexibility around the knee joint itself but it will also help flexibility in most of the muscles around this leg area too. Simply kneel on one foot and make small clockwise or anti-clockwise circles with the other – you can change which direction you circle in depending on what feels best for your flexibility level.
The flexibility exercise for a back bow helps to improve flexibility in the spine and also stretches muscles around the upper and middle back area which can be helpful for sports requiring flexibility around these areas. Begin by standing up straight with your feet together and your arms raised overhead towards the sky. You should then lean your body forward from the hips so that your arms reach out in front of you until they are at shoulder height, whilst keeping your back arched backward.