Best/Easiest way to Increase Flexibility?

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by TripleB, Oct 22, 2012.

  1. TripleB

    TripleB Hall of Fame

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    While at the doc today (for what turned out to be strained ligaments in my kmee) he fussed at me for my lack of flexibility...something that I haven't had in the 45 years I've been on this Earth. He said if I didn't increase my flexibility (he suggested yoga) I would continue to have knee and hip problems.

    Now that I've been this close to torn ligaments, maybe it's about time I actually worked on my flexibility.

    So what's the best (hopefully easy) way to increase flexibility?

    Thanks.

    TripleB
     
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  2. tennis_tater

    tennis_tater Semi-Pro

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    Dr's recommendation sounds like a good start.
     
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  3. El Diablo

    El Diablo Hall of Fame

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    Didn't you mention once you never have a drink? Time to start. Helps loosen you up.
     
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  4. TripleB

    TripleB Hall of Fame

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    Thanks...once the knee starts getting better I may try that...start easy with Wii Fitness Yoga or Kinect Yoga :)

    Last time I had an alcoholic beverage was on my honeymoon in 1993. Had a couple drinks then, wife said she didn't like the way I acted when I had been drinking, so that was the last time I had anything.

    I'd rather give up tennis than to lose my family...don't think I'll start drinking now. :)

    TripleB
     
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  5. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Yoga is great for those without physical injuries. Even the most adamant yoga instructors stay away from me after we talk.
    My g/f loves yoga, can do most of the advanced poses, still pays for classes, after 14 years. She has no injuries.
    I took 14 yoga classes, once a week, this spring. It destroyed my knees, shoulders, wrists, all of which have suffered traumatic injuries in the past. It aggravated my collarbones (4 breaks), made my neck incredibly stiff, and gave me lower back pains. Needless to say, I stopped.
    Flexibility. Can't achieve it if you're previously injured. CAN achieve some amount, thru pain and years of perserverance.
    I don't have years. I"m 63, can't touch toes, and shoulder flex test (one hand behind, one over shoulders), the gap is about 14".
    Tough berries. So I cannot survive a week in a tiny box. Hasn't affected any of the sports I do.
     
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  6. chrischris

    chrischris Hall of Fame

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    Yes yoga will help you. Particularly the hot version aka Bikram Yoga.
     
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  7. corners

    corners Legend

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    I'd be careful with Yoga. It can work really well to build flexibility and since the poses are usually active - meaning that muscles are often flexing even in extended positions - the flexibility you build is pretty functional. But because the focus is on static positions that are very difficult to achieve for any man, let alone an older and inflexible man, striving after them can be dangerous. It's relatively safe for women because they can get into the positions pretty easily and relax, which is how yoga ia supposed to be done. A yoga pose is called an "asana", which is Sanskrit for "comfortable." For most men asanas are more like "painful."

    I think it's better for male athletes to try flexibility methods that focus on muscle lengthening rather than stretching. It's very easy to overstretch, which is very counterproductive and injurious. (Old martial artists who forced their stretches for many years are often so stiff as to appear crippled.) Those methods that use neurological tricks to coax muscles to lengthen on their own accord are best, in my opinion. Active Isolate Stretching uses the principal of reciprocal inhibition to lengthen muscles without really stretching them, in the sense where "stretching" means forcibly tugging on the muscles. Instead, if you were aiming to lengthen your hamstrings for example, you would contract your quads, which sends an inhibitory neurological signal to your hamstrings, allowing them to relax and lengthen. These "stretches" are held for only a few seconds at a time because you are really using this inhibitory feedback loop to teach the hamstrings to relax and lengthen rather than tug on them until they submit. Each short repetition is like another lesson for the muscle on how to lengthen.

    Another approach that uses similar tricks is the Feldenkrais Method. This is much more sophisticated and in my opinion the ultimate method to increase body awareness and flexibility, as well as improve grace and efficiency of motion. But it's also rather vague in it's approach and does not have the goal-oriented focus that an athlete would want. But if you've got cash for treatment, it beats massage therapy or chiropractic hands-down, IMHO. Pat Cash has been enthusing about Feldenkrais recently. It was developed by an Isreali physicist who helped invent radar.

    Something similar to the Feldenkrais method, but more goal-oriented and easier for athletes to relate to, is what's now called "dynamic flexibility" drills. These are popular in tennis circles and I think that there is a dynamic flexibility warmup routine endorsed by USTA. In a hamstring drill, for example, you might kick high in front of you in a rythmic easy manner repeatedly, ending each kick just short of a stretch sensation. This works like reciprocal inhibition to teach or coax the muscle to lengthen rather than tugging on it. Done before a match or practice session these drills can really loosen you up, while helping warm you up at the same time.

    For old injuries, one should turn to the badass soft-tissue approaches like ART (active release technique), Myofascial Release, Rolfing and the like. They all claim to be able to lengthen and smooth out old scar tissues and free up movement, something that stretching by oneself will never really accomplish.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2012
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  8. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Good stuff... a bit over my head.
    Downward dog....try this with two destroyed rotator cuffs, wrists that swell and don't bend backwards 45 degrees.
    Then they have you do a down to pushup position and half body pushup, while my right elbow CLICKS sooo loudly, more than half the class start to whisper "what was that?" Instructors actually tell me to STOP with that noise!
    One legged balance pose. Try that with flat feet. FFeet, you have no push from your big toe whatsover, which is why your feet is flat.
    "Warrior" poses. You kidding me? What the heck, the least balanced, whether one or two, most fragile pose ever!
    Wait until I get started ......
     
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  9. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    First bend over and grab your ankles........
     
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  10. corners

    corners Legend

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    Doesn't sound like fun Lee. But I think the one-legged balance poses and the warriors are some of the good ones for men. I hear what you're saying about flat fee, but strengthening your feet via the one-legged poses should help you do them. It sounds like a circular hell, but you can only improve right? Actually, if you want to help out your feet I would walk around on your toes and balls of feet several times a day until you get fatigued. Just before bed is ideal as you can fatigue the hell out of your feet and wake up the next day stronger. This can really help strengthen the muscles that suppor the arches. You might find after six weeks of doing this that you have much greater spring in your step.
     
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  11. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Thanks, will try.
    So far, haven't been able to do a calf lift yet. Pain in ankle precludes it, and it starts swelling under the inside ankle bone within a couple minutes.
    Something is still wrong, or I might have run sometime in the past 5 years. Someone said detached tendons.
     
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  12. 3fees

    3fees Hall of Fame

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    Do regular exercises,twists,bends,toe touchers,ect to where you can without straining a few at a time, every day-stretching exercises improve flexability, it takes time.
     
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  13. sixftlion

    sixftlion Rookie

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    If you start doing a few stretches AFTER your tennis practice (or even any time, if you don't play tennis), your flexibility will slowly get better and better. It's not fun in the beginning, because it doesn't feel comfortable and it hurts a bit. Afterwards, you feel like a king though. :) This is my stretching routine that I do every day after tennis. You can hold the poses shorter or longer, depending how much time you want to spend. It takes about 10-20 minutes.

    You can also add self-myofascial release into your training regimen and it will further speed up the process of becoming flexible. And/or you can get deep tissue massage. It is going to hurt, but eventually it will feel great. Just stick with it. Remember that even 5 minutes of doing a little bit is better than nothing.
     
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  14. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    About 4 of the girls down at the windsurfing rigging area do yoga religiously, maybe 3+ days a week, and 3 are pro instructors.
    They can't windsurf worth beans compared to me, stiff as a ....stiff.
    Increased flexibilty means you have more flexibility, not that you can do anything better than anyone else.
    I used to laugh at the surfer's all doing yoga before their paddle outs. I was surfing 4A then, and never stretched or warmed up. Heck try putting on that 4/3 wetsuit, booties, and waxing your board. I was ready to go after that.
     
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  15. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    it is key to be warm when you stretch and not stretch
    hard before playing...just warm up good, play, then stretch.
     
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  16. Texas Scrambler

    Texas Scrambler New User

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    simple stretching advice

    Cross Train. Yoga is awesome for stretching but can get boring though I will do it. Swimming, surfing, and big wipe outs in deep pow are great ways to stay active and get stretched. Living in western Canada, I ski/board lots in the winter and after a good day of deeep pow and lots of tumbles, I am Gumby.

    Find some crosstraining activities that work for you that are not rigid in nature. Water polo would be awesome just thinking about it.
     
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  17. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    The muscles that need stretching for knee posture corrections are often in the hip. They are complicated.

    It is common to let some of them get too tight. Rectus femorus is one, piriformis is another, leg abductors.....?

    It is best to have a Dr evaluate your posture and prescribe PT so that the correct stretches are done.

    Some stretches might stress the back so be careful.

    Common inflexibilities -
    http://www.exrx.net/Kinesiology/Inflexibilities.html
     
    #17
  18. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    No, it just means a position or pose or seat or throne.

    The confusion may be with a word in a derived language, "asaan" which means easy, but the two words have nothing to do with each other.
     
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  19. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    What pose is dummer than Warrior's 1 and 2? Contrived, non athletic, pure POSING !
     
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  20. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    Agree with corners about the yoga. Unfortunately in the world of athletics you get flexible people pushing yoga and people good at long distance running pushing marathons etc.

    Such exercises can be harmful to people with different bodytypes without careful consideration given to the individual athlete.

    Most athletes nowadays go with a routine like this Dynamic stretching - workout - static stretching/foam roller.

    The issue with stretching that I have found is that without nearly daily work on it you quickly regress. So the hardest part of flexibility improvement is adherence.

    On the plus side I think that many normal exercises can improve flexibility. Something like a squat hold is a neat way to improve your flexibility if you are inflexible. If you are really inflexible you an start holding onto to a bar..and just holding that in a full squatted positon.
     
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  21. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    This is an easy question. Put more points into Dexterity (instead of say Charisma or Intelligence) at Character Creation.
     
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  22. North

    North Professional

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    I never found yoga particularly appealing - just didn't like it. I initially blew off Tai Chi when someone suggested it years ago but decided to try it and have been doing Tai Chi every morning for years. It definitely helps with flexibility and balance. The other plus, which surprised me, was the mentally (or maybe spiritually) calming effect. I coulld never meditate cos I can't sit still - lol - but Tai Chi is like moving meditation. Check it out, you might be pleasantly surprised.
     
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