Improve Flexibility Without Stretching

How can we be as flexible as the ballerinas on stage, the gymnasts soaring in the air, or the acrobats on hula hoops who shape themselves limitless in various forms without distorting our bodies? Can we simply improve on our flexibility?

The common answer is to keep stretching like elastic bands. Alas, some of us find stretching a rather painful, dull chore, especially as our muscles and ligaments get taut or rusty as we age. Is there any other alternative to stretching?

Fortunately, stretchable activities like rock climbing, yoga and foam rolling are activities you can focus on the fun and gain flexibility instead of stretching. Mobility exercises like cat cows, T-spine rotations, PVC passes, and band pullovers are also alternatives you can include in your exercise routine to improve flexibility without stretching. 

“Stretchable” Activities 

During some physical activity, you are actively yet subconsciously working on your flexibility. Examples include rock-climbing, sprinting, or swimming where you would take bigger strides or extend your entire body to cover a lot more distance. By being accustomed to lengthening your limbs, after some time, your joints and muscles would feel a lot more relaxed in various positions you once felt uncomfortable sustaining.

The same principle applies when it comes to stretching. If you stretch for a long period of time, your muscles will become used to the position and therefore be able to sustain it longer than if you hadn’t stretched at all. This is why people who have been doing yoga for years can hold poses that most beginners could not even dream about.

Not only do such activities make you stretch without you being aware of it to dread it, but you also experience a whale of a time with the fun, challenging nature of the sport. You might also be busy interacting with your peers as well as other participants during the activity.


Foam rolling

According to the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, foam rolling your muscles has been shown to boost muscle flexibility, allowing you to work out with a more efficient, safer form. The researchers looked at how participants scored much higher in the sit-and-reach flexibility test after they began using the light cylindrical tube of compressed foam.

True enough, foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release. What exactly is fascia? It is a stringy tissue that surrounds and supports all parts of your body, from the millions of nerves and nerve fibers to the tendons and ligaments. Naturally, the fascia is not that pliable which is usually the cause of you being stiff. Thankfully, we have the foam roller to segregate and strengthen the fibers that make up the fascia. In turn, this loosens our joints and tissues, stimulates blood flow to our muscles, as well as breaks down tight scar tissue for a greater range of motion.

It is recommended to foam roll before any exercise to promote blood flow to target muscle groups. This should be done regularly for the best results, and to allow you to have a better idea of how much pressure to apply to your muscles such that the process feels comfortable. You can massage your entire body with a foam roller; an extremely versatile tool indeed.

Hamstrings are one of the most important muscles in your body. They help you stand, walk and run. If they’re tight or weak, it can affect everything from your posture to your ability to jump high enough to reach a ball.

Credits: AliExpress 


Mobility exercises

Also known are dynamic stretches, they improve your range of motion without you having to hold any stretch for extended durations. Your muscles will be warmed up, lengthening and loosening muscle fibers for your to deepen your flexibility.

Here are some mobility drills that have worked wonders for the whole spectrum of athletes, from football to track and field.

Mobility workout ideas

Target regions

Cat cows

Credits: Mather Hospital

Upper body

T-spine rotations

Credits: Runner’s World

PVC passes

Credits: WorkoutLabs

Band pullovers

Credits: Real Simple


Side lunges

Credits: Pinterest


Forward lunges

Credits: Freepik

Lower body


Credits: Skimble


Credits: VectorStock

Hip openers

Credits: The New York Times

Efforts have been made to get the information as accurate and updated as possible. If you found any incorrect information with credible source, please send it via the contact us form
Author: Liyana Mokhtar Hussein
Liyana enjoys exploring different cultures and cuisines during my travels.
Back to blog