This page includes links to most if not all articles on this website related to improving flexibility i.e. stretching. Stretches are grouped by body part.
Flexibility is the ability to apply strength or relax across a wide range of positions. The wider the range of positions in which you can apply strength or relax, the more flexible you are.
I’ll use the word “stretch” to denote the idea of working towards flexibility. When stretching, for it to be a stretch there must be some resistance. As an analogy, when you stretch an elastic band, the elastic band resists being stretched. And you can feel this resistance. So when stretching your body, there should be resistance in the part being stretched.
Stretch sensation, the sensation that arises when stretching, is a combination of connective tissue being lengthened and muscle activation sensation.
In general, the greater the stretch the louder the connective tissue stretching sensation and the dimmer the muscular activation sensation on the side of the joint being lengthened.
Floppiness occurs when the body is completely (or as completely as possible) relaxed. Floppiness means there is no resistance to movement. Being able to be floppy is a good thing and is part of being flexible. But it isn’t the same as being flexible.
Some suggestions for flexibility training
When stretching, a part of flexibility training can be to relax to the point of floppiness in the end position. However, this should also be accompanied by doing the opposite, deliberately re-activating.
When doing flexibility training, you can consider the short side of the stretch and the long side. The long side of a stretch is the side of the joint that is being stretched. The short side of the stretch is the side that is being shortened. Flexibility training includes training muscles to activate, or relax, while shortened and while lengthened.
When working on flexibility it’s important to consider joint safety. Muscles control joint position. Muscle control (the degree of activation or relaxation of muscles) maintains joint integrity through a joint’s range of possible positions and through a range of applied forces.
Because our joints have some ability to rotate, or require the ability to resist being rotated, an important part of flexibility training can include rotational control.
Flexibility requires stability. When stretching an elastic band you need to fix at least one part of the elastic band. For example, you can pinch one end of the elastic. Then you can pull the free end away from the pinched end. When stretching muscles, it helps to anchor one or both ends of the muscle being lengthened or shortened.
About the articles on improving flexibility listed below
For most sections there are pages that contain multiple stretches for the body part in question. There may also be pages that focus on a single stretch for each body part. The single stretch pages, if they exist, are listed first. The multi-stretch pages are listed after.
Except for the "how to improve flexibility" articles, all links include images of the stretches. So you can get a good idea of the types of stretches just from the images. The pages themselves will include details on what to do in each stretch to make the stretching position more effective.
For a more verbose index (or if you are used to the old yoga for flexibility index) check out yoga for flexibility.
For general tips (and some principles) for improving flexibility, check out these tips for improving flexibility below.
Use the hyperlinked headings to return to the table of contents.
Hip Flexor Stretches
Bent knee hip flexor stretches
Kneeling yoga poses
Sensational Quad Stretches
Hamstring Stretching Yoga Poses
Yoga Shoulder Stretches
For more on understanding flexibility and improving it, check out the articles below.