5 Tips To Improve Your Flexibility In Just 4 Weeks, Straight From A Ballerina
I won't lie to you guys: When you're a flexible person, it's pretty entertaining to see the looks on people's faces as you casually touch your foot to your head or effortlessly drop down into a center split like it's nothing. But, believe it or not, blowing people's minds isn't the only benefit to being bendy. Flexibility improves everything from your posture to your workouts in the gym, and all it takes is a bit of commitment to daily stretches. Take it from a bendy ballerina herself, who has a few tips to improve your flexibility up her oh so graceful sleeves. And, trust me, these tips and stretches are as beginner-friendly as it gets, people.
Sassy Gregson-Williams is a former ballerina and founder of the wellness blog Naturally Sassy, and she's here to tell you that becoming more flexible definitely isn't an impossible feat, no matter what your body's current skill set looks like. As long as you're sticking to some of the stretches she recommends, you'll start to see improvement much sooner than you think.
"It takes four weeks to visually see improvement, and three months of consistent stretching can show drastic improvement," Gregson-Williams tells Elite Daily over email, emphasizing that the real key to seeing results lies in your consistency and dedication. "I would advise stretching for a short amount of time every day — just five to 10 minutes."
Gregson-Williams recently launched her very own online workout studio, Ballet Blast by Sassy, which includes several accessible, ballet-based workouts you can do in the comfort of your own home. If you want to channel some serious ballerina vibes, you can try one of Gregson-Williams' online workouts and stretch it out afterward with some of the movements she outlines below.
As you do each of these stretches, Gregson-Williams recommends continually engaging your abdominals and staying mindful about the alignment of your hips; keep them as square as possible, she says. "Use deep breathing throughout the stretches, and always think about making the stretch longer instead of deeper," the ballerina explains. "Make sure that, before you stretch, your muscles are warm. Going through a simple warm-up sequence first before stretching is key."
So, if you want better posture, more agility in your workouts, or you just want to see the looks on your friends' faces when you touch your toes with ease, give some of these stretches a shot, and watch how your body evolves.
Hone In On Those Hammies
According to Gregson-Williams, engaging in this simple hamstring stretch will lengthen your hammies, calves, and back, not to mention it'll feel amazingly yummy while you're doing it.
"Take a wide parallel stance, continuing to engage to core-release down into a deep hamstring stretch," the ballerina explains. "Beginners [should] cross their arms and hold alternate elbows as they hang."
If you're a little more advanced, try crossing your arms and reaching for your toes, holding for 30 seconds to deepen the stretch.
Take A Cue From This Running Stretch
This bad boy gets right into your hamstrings and your calves — and, TBH, it hurts so good.
Gregson-Williams says to start by getting down into a kneeling position and stretching one of your legs straight out in front of you. "Place hands on either side of your calf on the floor [and] feel as though you’re pushing your spine into your stomach to keep straight alignment," she explains.
Hold for 30 seconds, then switch legs and repeat on the other side.
Open Up Those Hip Flexors
This bad boy will feel incredible after a day of sitting at work because it stretches out both your hip flexors and your quads. "Start by going into a kneeling position and straighten the back leg, lifting the heel off the floor and placing the opposite hand on the floor," the ballerina instructs.
Then, she says, twist to open your body into that front leg, lifting up your arm and gazing toward the ceiling as you do so. Hold this one for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Don't Neglect Your Calves
According to Gregson-Williams, the calves often get neglected in stretch sequences, but she says they're so important for maintaining flexibility in your lower body. This stretch will help to release the muscles in your calves, and the best part is, this one's definitely easy enough to do while you're watching Netflix.
Sitting down, the ballerina says, extend one leg forward with the other foot coming to rest on the inside of your knee. Extend your opposite hand to your straightened-out leg and reach for your big toe, changing the alignment of the foot so it points slightly inward.
Sit up straight, pushing your lower back into your core to maintain overall posture, Gregson-Williams says. Again, hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the opposite side.
Lengthen Your Side Body
This stretch might look simple, but Gregson-Williams says it does so much for your body; it stretches your adductors, hamstrings, obliques, back, and neck. Yum. "[With] one leg extended to the side, the other [will] tuck in across the mid-line. Then, side-bend over the extended leg, keeping the shoulders in a stack," she explains.
Hold for 30 seconds on both the left and right sides of your body, and revel in those badass ballerina vibes, my friends.