Trying to gain flexibility is just stretching right? How can you go wrong? Well, there are a lot of ways. Today I am not going to go into the muscles and joints information because I already have a post similar to this you can view here – https://www.lakorayoga.com/6-ways-to-gain-flexibility-faster/
Today we are focusing on some mistakes that I ALWAYS see people making and they are probably ones that you don’t even realise you are doing.
5 Mistakes to STOP making in your flexibility practice
Every body is different, don’t compare yourself to others. Some people are naturally more flexible so it isn’t going to take them as long to gain flexibility. Some people are born hyper mobile meaning they have more movement in their joints them other people do.
There’s also the case of some peoples body parts are shorter/longer than yours. If you are trying to touch your toes but you have extremely long legs, then it’s further for you to go. As an example of this, for me to do Half moon pose or candy cane (where you grab your foot in half moon), I usually use a block because the floor is further away because of my long legs. Look at the image below my hips are starting to close in because I am trying to touch the floor my torso is leaning downwards. Now if I were to come up on a block, I could open my torso and hips to the side and be more comfortable in the pose.
Don’t compare your start to someone else’s middle or ending. Maybe they have been practicing since they were 15 and you have only just started in your 30’s.
2. Don’t compare to yourself
As well as comparing your self to others, another common mistake is to compare to yourself. Our bodies are amazing things but they change constantly. With hormones, health, muscle tightness. Your practice will look different on different days.
If you manage to touch your toes one day but not the next. Think about why that could be. Maybe you didn’t get much sleep last night and your body is tired. Maybe you are achy from a big practice before and your muscles have tightened. Maybe you are in the middle of your menstrual cycle and your body is too busy working on that.
There can be so many reasons. Just keep practicing and over time (a long period of time) you will see results. Don’t compare the next day, there hasn’t been enough time passed to see results clearly.
3. Not taking pictures!
Sometimes it can be really hard to see the progress we have made. If you are just trying to feel it in your body, you may not notice the results. This is why I love pictures and videos. It’s not until we look back that we see how far we have come.
It may be the tiniest bit of improvement, but the results are there. You don’t have to share these, keep them for yourself but do it. Be proud of yourself put them side by side and say ‘hey, I did that’
4. Use props
Not using props is a big mistake. As I said above with my half moon pose. I can’t feel that pose correctly until I prop myself up so I can really open up my hips. If I don’t do this I am closing in, meaning I am not feeling the stretch where I should. My hips, torso, side body are not getting the full stretch and there fore, How am I meant to improve?
You can use props for so many things and they can be such great tools for flexibility. For eg. Using a strap pulled long above your head and bringing it behind for a deep shoulder stretch or using blocks to come onto your elbows in lizard instead of being on your hands so that you can get your torso that little bit closer to the floor and feel the stretch deeper in the hips.
Props are friends. Use your props!
5. Working on balance
I don’t mean physical balance, although that is also helpful. I mean working on your strength as well as flexibility. When we work on flexibility we lengthen out the muscles. To keep our bodies safe and healthy we need to also work on strength so that we can recover quicker and protect are ligaments and tendons whilst we are stretching.
For Example. If we are lengthening the hamstrings, the quads are contracting. Or lengthen the back, the core is contracting. So Whatever muscle is contracting we want it to be strong, so we need to work on the strength. If we spent all our time stretching (imagen an elastic band) we will eventually become to flimsy and over stretch and cause damage that cannot shrink back. But if we strengthen as well as stretch we can contract the muscles back to how they should be leaving no damage!
So, please do not make any of these mistakes! Keep practicing, keep stretching, keep strengthening and most of all DO NOT COMPARE TO ANYONE including yourself.