THE BLOG
08/31/2010 04:23 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Flexibility at Any Age: Part 2

Some of my clients come to me for flexibility training because their sport requires it. Others come because their lack of flexibility has caused them to become injured, and they are unable to participate in their favorite sport.

Stretching should be a part of everyone's fitness program. Increased flexibility will help you to perform life's daily activities with ease and help reduce the risk of muscle, joint and tendon injuries.

When you have back pain, shoulder pain or knee pain, it's your body's way of trying to get your attention. To keep these common aches and pains from escalating, they can most often be relieved by performing the correct stretches.

It's important to know that practicing stretches in a specific order can help the body to open up faster. For example, before you can effectively stretch the hamstrings and the line up into lower back, one must stretch the calves thoroughly first.

In all my DVD's and when I work with clients, I show stretches in this order to help prepare the body for each following stretch:

1. Upper body
2. Lower legs/Calves/Feet
3. Quadriceps
4. Hips/Buttocks
5. Inner Thighs/Groin area
6. Hamstrings
7. Splits

It's best not to leave out any body part because everything is connected. Stretching and strengthening the entire body will create balance and leave you feeling free and open.

If the body is really tight in an area, switch sides and come back and repeat that stretch again. Each time you repeat a stretch the body should allow you to sink deeper into it.

Don't try to force it by violently bouncing, this method is outdated and can cause injuries.

The biggest part of flexibility training is breathing. Inhale deep before the stretch and exhale as you sink into the stretch. This will also help relieve stress and will put you in touch with your body. Some of the many possible benefits of breath work combined with proper stretching are:

A. Greatly reduce the risk of injury
B. Helps reduce menstrual cramps
C. Increase range of motion in sports
D. Better posture
E. Improved love-making pleasure
F. Reduce muscle tension and soreness
G. Improved sleep
H. Anti-Aging -- keeps one active and more youthful

The beauty about flexibility is that anyone can change it at any time. No matter how old you are. If you don't use, you ... you lose it. Just start right from where you are now and build on it day by day. If you don't know how to start, it's best to take some private lessons with an instructor that can assist you in gently stretching your body and taking it further than you can on your own.

The next best thing is DVD's or classes from a qualified instructor. This will be a valuable investment into your health that keeps on giving! It can end up saving you in costly trips to doctors, chiropractors, physical therapy and unnecessary surgeries.