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How to stay flexible in six ways

Looking for ways to keep flexible while confined inside? Read our 5 top tips to maintain good flexibility. 

With many of us having to adapt to working from home or socially isolating, many of our usual fitness routines can become jeopardized. There are however things you can do to maintain good flexibility while stuck indoors. 

“Maintaining flexibility into later life and having mobility in joints really has a beneficial impact on quality of life,” says osteopath Stephen Makinde, founder of Perfect Balance Clinic. Here's how to add more flex:

1. Focus on your back

Sit down a lot? “Stretching your chest and upper back will help posture and prevent a stooped back,” says musculoskeletal physiotherapist Kedar Kale from Crushes Manor Clinic. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and your back against a wall. Push back shoulders as if you're trying to get your shoulder blades towards your spine. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds: repeat five times. 

2. Strike a yoga pose

Yoga boosts flexibility and balance. “One of the things I see that makes the biggest difference is when people do regular morning stretches – so yoga is a good addition to assist in keeping mobile,” says Makinde. Check out YouTube for videos catering to all levels to try at home.

Some core yoga poses which you can try as a beginner include: 

  • Bow pose
  • Cat stretch
  • Cobra stretch
  • Swan position

Why not check out our article on whether yoga or pilates is right for you

3. Stretch those calves

“This is essential for good lower-limb circulation and assisting in the hip movement,” says Kale. Stand facing a wall with one leg stretched behind you, heel on floor and knee straight. Bend the front leg and gently lunge until you feel a calf stretch. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds: repeat five times. As an extra, push the buttock of the back leg slightly forwards for a front hip stretch.

4. Eat well for your joints

While no one food will fast-track you to flexibility, combine healthy eating with exercise and you’re onto a winner. Dose up on omega 3-rich oily fish, said to help reduce inflammation or flaxseeds and walnuts for a plant-based source of good fatty acids. And look for foods high in antioxidant-rich flavonoids, such as berries, which have anti-inflammatory, weight-stabilizing properties.

Why not try: 

  • Red peppers
  • Low fat yoghurt
  • Kale
  • Walnuts

5. Don't neglect your neck

“Maintaining your neck’s range of movement will help posture and assist in functional activities, such as driving,” says Kale. Sit on a chair without slouching or leaning forwards. If you are standing, ensure your chin is not poking forwards. Gently turn your neck to one side and hold for 10 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

Other neck exercises include the side-to-side neck tilt where you can move your neck toward one shoulder. After holding it for 5-10 seconds, move back to centre then repeat on the other side. This should be repeated 3 to 5 times. 

6. Move, often

Whether it’s walking, running or a YouTube workout, exercise will keep your joints in good working order. “Movement produces a lubricating fluid called synovial fluid. This helps the joint in much the same way as oil in a hinge – without it, the joint becomes worn quickly and seizes up,” says Makinde. So ultimately, get active now to stay active in the long term.

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