By: Todd Smekens
BLOG– As a practice that strengthens your muscles, improves posture, reduces physical and mental stress and maintains blood flow to tissues, it’s clear that the benefits of doing yoga abound. Increasing your flexibility is yet another of the many great advantages of yoga. As yoga lovers, we see so many changes in our body on a regular basis, but how do we monitor our flexibility? Check out these quick tips for tracking your flexibility and ensuring that you reach your optimum level of elasticity.
Regular stretching is a great way to increase your flexibility and monitor improvements. You’ll notice more mobility in your muscles and strength in your joints for ease of movement. Over time, changes in your strength and the range of your stretches can be a clear indicator of higher levels of flexibility. Thus, a consistent and focused stretching regimen is a great tool.
Try including both dynamic and active stretches in your stretching regime.
Dynamic stretches call for smooth motion of your limbs and help to increase your range of motion. Some great dynamic stretches that test flexibility include controlled leg swings, arm swings and torso twists. Be sure to do lots of repetitions of the dynamic stretches you do for greater muscle strength.
Conversely, active stretching involves still positions rather than motion. This kind of stretching allows your muscles to relax in a given position and slowly stretch out. Good active stretches include the splits, the straight leg raise and toe touching.
Along with range of motion, monitoring your heart rate and breathing patterns are great ways to track strength and flexibility. Calm and constant breaths can indicate more control. You could try using a wearable heart rate monitor like the Samsung Gear S2 while stretching. This way you’ll be able be to clearly see shifts in heart rate and note any physical improvement.
2. Fitness Tools
There are a few tools that can be used to measure flexibility, ensuring a more reliable and accurate monitoring procedure.Try a goniometer or flexometer, which both measure the change in angle from one extreme position to another. While the goniometer is sometimes criticized for not being accurate due to its need to identify the axis of rotation, the flexometer is a less complicated alternative. You simply attach the device to a limb and it measures your range of motion in degrees as you stretch. Through providing numeric data, these tools can precisely quantify improvements in flexibility.
3. Phone Apps
You can even use your phone to help gauge flexibility. Apps like Yoga Stretch, Flexible Training and Stretches Timer offer tips for stretching and provide a user-friendly way to time how long you hold stretches, which can be another great way of precisely noting improvement. By keeping a log of the timings, you can easily see your progress, which will in turn allow you to set and reach new goals. And for the sake of convenience, it keeps your tracking in one place to avoid confusion.
It’s widely accepted that flexibility is important to one’s overall well-being. Therefore, following these quick tips and having ways of monitoring your body’s progress can be well worth the effort.