Flexibility, also called joint range of movement, is an important factor that affects the ability to perform easy and complex movements at any age or physical ability. From the 50-meter dash to getting off the couch, an individual’s flexibility will determine how comfortable that movement will be now and in the future. The great thing about flexibility is that it can be improved dramatically over a short period of time with flexibility exercises.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), “Flexibility exercise should target the major muscle tendon units of the shoulder girdle, chest, neck, trunk, lower back, hips, posterior and anterior legs, and ankles.” Unfortunately, there isn’t a “perfect” flexibility exercise that targets all of these areas. In order to build flexibility, a series of exercises will need to be combined. For simplicity’s sake, only common static stretches will be described.
Sit on the floor with one leg straight. Bend the other leg at the knee and position the sole of your foot against your inner thigh. Extend your arms and reach forward over the straight leg by bending at the waist as far as possible.
Start in a runner’s lunge position with one foot flat on the floor in front of you and the other flat on the floor behind you. Lean forward, bending your front leg while trying to keep your back leg straight.
Lie on your stomach with hands under your shoulders. Gently push your torso off the ground while keeping your pelvis on the ground. You should feel a slight stretch in the front of your stomach.
While seated, place your right leg over your left with your right foot on the ground. Twist your body so that your left elbow makes contact with your right knee. Repeat on the opposite side.
Chest & Shoulder
Clasp your hands behind your back, and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Breathe from the chest.
With elbows bent cross your arms in front of yourself and grab opposite shoulders with both hands as if giving yourself a hug. Use your fingers to draw your elbows past each other.
Repeat with the other arm on top.
Creating Your Own Flexibility Program
Similar to weight training, you should focus on a variety of exercises that target different areas of the body. Alternating between flexibility exercises will improve range of motion around a joint over time. Consistency is key, so after developing a program, stick with it. Instead of sitting on the couch while watching your favorite show, try a few of the exercises listed. Small changes over time will lead to a considerable transformation.
The ACSM references the following factors when developing a routine:
Frequency: 2–3 days a week, daily being most effective
Intensity: Perform exercise to the point of tightness or slight discomfort
Time: With a static stretch, the position in which a slight stretch is felt should be held for 15–30 seconds
Pattern: Repeat each flexibility exercise 3–5 times on each side of the body
Progression: Go at your own pace, as the exercise should not cause pain or take the joint past the normal range of movement
Incorporating Flexibility into Sprint 8 to Maximize Your Results
Now that you’ve developed your flexibility routine, let’s tie it into your Sprint 8 workout. Your first question is probably, “Should I perform the routine before or after my Sprint 8 workout?” The answer is simple and holds true for nearly every exercise program. Your flexibility routine should be performed after your workout. However, it is important to warm up your muscles prior to the exercise. Warming up your muscles before performing Sprint 8 or any other exercise is essential to preventing injury. This can be done through light-to-moderate aerobic activity (jumping jacks, jump rope, short jog).
In addition to warming up, hydration and nutrition can play key roles in improving your flexibility. Hydration will help lubricate your joints, preventing injury. Proper nutrition from nutrient-dense foods will support healthy joint fluid and reduce muscle inflammation.
“Sprint 8 is a tried and true workout that can rapidly and radically change your body for the better. It’s simple. It’s effective. And you’re going to love what it does to your body.”