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Why am I not flexible?

Updated: Jul 8, 2021

Do you stretch and stretch and still feel as if you’re not getting anywhere? When asked where you feel tight, you answer, “everywhere.”


You’re not alone. This seems to be the case with many people that come and talk to me. Here are a couple things to think about when it comes to how you approach flexibility.


How long do you hold a stretch?

I know when I go to group fitness classes or did organized group exercises, the cool downs consisted of holding a stretch for 10 counts. Well, let me tell you… that’s not enough! It takes 30 seconds to stretch a muscle. And on top of that, the muscle is wrapped in connective tissue, which takes 90-120 seconds to stretch.


Think of it this way. Imagine the muscle is taffy enclosed in a candy wrapper (the connective tissue). Unless the candy wrapper gets bigger, no matter how much the taffy is stretched, it’s still trapped inside the small wrapper. Holding the stretch for the longer 90-120 seconds allows the connective tissue (the wrapper) to stretch, creating a bigger container for the muscle (the taffy) to elongate within.


How often do you stretch?

Going to yoga or stretching once a week is not going to cut it. Think about how much you’re using your muscles EVERY DAY. If you’re sitting at a desk five days a week for 40 hours, stretching one day a week is not going to balance that out.


Are you relaxed?

When you stretch, does it feel like it takes work to hold that position? Tense = holding… and that means contraction. This isn’t going to help the muscle or connective tissue relax and lengthen.


Maybe flexibility isn’t the issue.

If you’re doing all the above and things still haven’t changed, maybe you already are flexible and the issue is that the muscle is overworked. It doesn’t know how to stop working and rest or there is an imbalance that causes it to work overtime. Either way, this can leave them overworked, tired, and tight… and possibly even unable to engage properly.


Much like people who work a lot, and then go home and think about work or do extra work… Even though they’re not at work, they’re still working. Eventually, these people get tired, tight, and burnt out.


So even though Muscle A isn’t actively flexing, if it’s tense and doesn’t get a chance to relax, it can still be working. Eventually, Muscle A gets tired, tight, and doesn’t engage when it’s supposed to. This can lead to other muscles taking up the slack and getting sore because they’re doing their job plus the job of Muscle A. And so forth and so on.



On top of stretching, give yourself some time to rest. Give yourself time to rest while stretching. And on top of all that, give yourself grace. These things take time.


 

Want to try out some stretches to improve flexibility?


Get the flexibility guide. In it, I share five stretches for different areas of the body to

  • help increase flexibility

  • release tension

  • improve range of motion.


Each stretch talks about where the muscle is, what it's used for, and gives you a fun fact.


You'll get written instructions and a link to a video that goes over each stretch.




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9 Comments


og jenny
og jenny
Jun 24, 2022

You guys, google is your friend. Try pilates first, its way easier than yoga

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Jessica Lucey
Jessica Lucey
Jun 24, 2022
Replying to

That's interesting that you say pilates is way easier than yoga. There are so many different ways to practice, and there are different things you can do that make it easier or harder. I'd love to know what kind of classes you've taken in the past, and what would've made it better or easier for you.

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og jenny
og jenny
Jun 24, 2022

Ive been doing yoga and pilates my whole life and its still painful to touch my toes in any position. It also make muscles shake

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Jessica Lucey
Jessica Lucey
Jun 24, 2022
Replying to

Hmm... maybe there's something else going on. There's a lot of things that go into flexibility and mobility... especially if your muscles are shaking when you do it. This blog post is a list of easy things to try on your own and acknowledges that it might not be flexibility that's holding you back. If you want to hop on a call and chat about it, you can schedule here: https://www.sunbreathyoga.com/booking-calendar/discovery-call?referral=book_button_widget

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Melissa Rodriguez
Melissa Rodriguez
Jul 04, 2021

Hi. I just found your article and I look like the picture #1 you posted. Can you tell me what I can start doing daily? Some days I’ve given up on being flexible And it’s frustrating that it hurts.

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Jessica Lucey
Jessica Lucey
Jul 08, 2021
Replying to

Hi Melissa, I just finished my flexibility guide that shares five stretches to help improve flexibility (link below). Let me know what you think or if you have questions.

https://resources.sunbreathyoga.com/flexibility-guide

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Jessica Lucey
Jessica Lucey
Apr 30, 2020

Which part? Quads, hamstrings, calves, hip flexors, something else?

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I want more flexibility in my legs.

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