How Can I Get More Flexible?

4 Surefire Ways to Become a More Flexible Gymnast

Stretching for Flexibilty
Increase Your Flexibility. Nisian Hughes/Getty Images

Some people are naturally flexible, and if you're one of those—you lucky gymnast! But if you're not, here's how to get more flexible.

Come Up With Your Stretching Plan

Like anything else, you need a game plan to succeed. And like anything else, the more you practice, the better you'll get. If you're a gymnast on an organized team you probably already have a flexibility plan that's part of your workout. If you don't, check out these step-by-step instructions for basic stretches necessary for gymnastics:

Stretch Every Day

Pick a time and a place to stretch, and do it every day. Even if you only go through those three key stretches above -- which should only take five to 10 minutes -- you'll notice a huge improvement in your overall flexibility just by adding that one stretch session a day.

Many gymnasts feel tightest in the morning, so you may want to stretch in the afternoon or at night. Sneak it in while you watch TV or read, or use it as relaxation, and try to breathe slowly and clear your mind during this time.

Make a Calendar or Chart

Mark off every day that you stretch, so you'll feel accountable. Treat yourself to a reward once you've stretched every day for a week... for a month... for a year. And like any other goal, it'll help to record your progress. "Being more flexible" is a hard goal to monitor, but you probably have a very specific target in mind too. If you want to get your center split to 180 degrees, write that down on your calendar, so you remember why you're sticking with it. Once a week, measure how close you are to a full split, and write that down too. The more you can make overall flexibility a specific goal, the more likely you are to succeed. More on how to set gymnastics goals -- and reach them.

Go Beyond Traditional Stretching

You'll want to check with your coach first, but if he or she okays it, there are a few techniques that go beyond traditional, static stretches that can greatly aid your flexibility. Just be careful with these -- don't push too hard and be sure that your body is nice and warmed up. It's easier to injure yourself with techniques that go beyond static stretching.

  • Kicks: If you're looking to improve flexibility in your splits, try doing kicks holding onto the kitchen counter or end of the couch. Kick as high as you can comfortably go, keeping good form and square hips
  • Jumps: Do sets of split and straddle jumps on a trampoline or Tumbl Trak. Try five in a row, and work up from there. Make your jumps as high as possible, with good clean form
  • Resist, then release: Position yourself in a stretch -- a split, for example. Now lift up a little bit and tense the muscles in your legs downward, pushing against the floor. Hold for 10 seconds, then release, and you should be able to slide further into your split. Repeat several times.

A Warning: These tips are not meant in any way to replace a knowledgeable coach.Gymnastics is an inherently risky sport and you must be sure to take the necessary safety precautions such as proper progressions, the right matting and the use of spotters. By reading this article you agree that any advice you follow is at your own risk.