Stretching your body to become more supple and flexible offers many physical benefits. Such training allows for easier and deeper movements while building strength and stability. Stretching your muscles and joints also leads to greater range of motion, improved balance, and increased flexibility.

Continue reading to learn more about the benefits of developing a flexible, healthy body.

Improved flexibility produces a wide range of physical benefits and can have a positive effect on your overall well-being. Here are a few ways that increased flexibility is likely to help you.

1. Fewer injuries

Once you develop strength and flexibility in your body you’ll be able to withstand more physical stress. Plus, you’ll rid your body of any muscle imbalances, which will reduce your chance of getting injured during physical activity. Correcting muscle imbalances requires a combination of strengthening the underactive muscles and stretching the overactive (tight) ones.

2. Less pain

Your body is likely to feel better overall once you work on lengthening and opening your muscles. When your muscles are looser and less tense, you’ll experience fewer aches and pains. Plus, you may be less likely to experience muscle cramps.

3. Improved posture and balance

When you focus on increasing muscular flexibility your posture is likely to improve. Working out your body allows you to have proper alignment and correct any imbalances. Plus, with an increased range of motion you may find it easier to sit or stand in certain ways. Yoga has been shown to improve balance.

4. A positive state of mind

Regularly engaging in poses that stretch and open up your body can bring about feelings of relaxation. The physical benefits can extend to a relaxed state of mind. You may find it easier to unwind once your body feels better.

5. Greater strength

It’s important to increase strength as you become more flexible. This ensures your muscles will have the right amount of tension so that they’re strong enough to support you and your movements, allowing you to become more physically fit.

6. Improved physical performance

Once you increase your flexibility to allow greater movement in your body you’ll be able to perform better physically. This is in part because your muscles are working more effectively.

Practice these poses as often as possible to increase flexibility. They can be done as part of a workout routine or on their own at any time throughout the day. Make sure your body is properly warmed up before doing any of these exercises. Do these exercises at least 4 times per week for 10–20 minutes at a time.

1. Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Muscles worked:

  • hamstrings
  • gluteus maximus
  • deltoids
  • triceps
  • quadriceps

Gif credit: Active Body. Creative Mind.

To do this:

  1. Come onto all fours with your hands under your wrists and your knees under your hips.
  2. Press into your hands as you tuck your toes under and lift your knees, keeping your heels lifted.
  3. Extend through your spine and lift your sitting bones up toward the ceiling.
  4. Bend your knees slightly and press into all of the parts of your hands.
  5. Bring your head in line with your upper arms or relax your neck and tuck your chin into your chest.
  6. Focus on stretching and strengthening your body.
  7. Hold this pose for up to a minute at a time.
  8. Do the pose 3–5 times after a short rest or in between other poses.

2. Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar)

You can alternate the speed at which you do Sun Salutations. Doing Sun Salutations slowly will help you to increase your flexibility, while doing them at a medium pace will help to tone your muscles.

Muscles worked:

  • spinal extensors
  • trapezius
  • abdominals
  • quadriceps
  • hamstrings

Gif credit: Active Body. Creative Mind.

To do this:

  1. Bring your hands together in prayer pose at the front of your chest.
  2. Inhale as you lift up your arms and bend back slightly.
  3. Exhale and hinge at the hips. Fold forward until your hands are touching the ground.
  4. Inhale to bring your right leg back to a low lunge.
  5. Inhale to bring your left foot back into Plank.
  6. Exhale to lower your knees, chest, and chin to the floor.
  7. Inhale as you lift your chest up into Cobra.
  8. Exhale to press into Downward-Facing Dog.
  9. Inhale to bring your right leg forward.

10. Exhale to step your left foot forward into a standing forward bend.

11. Inhale to lift up your arms and bend back slightly.

12. Exhale and return your hands to Prayer Pose.

13. Do 5–10 Sun Salutations.

3. Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)

Muscles worked:

  • latissimus dorsi
  • internal oblique
  • gluteus maximus and medius
  • hamstrings
  • quadriceps

Gif credit: Active Body. Creative Mind.

To do this:

  1. Bring your feet apart so they’re wider than your hips with your right toes turned to the right and your left toes slightly turned to the right.
  2. Lift your arms so they’re parallel to the floor with your palms facing down.
  3. Hinge at the right hip to extend forward, reaching out through your right fingertips.
  4. Then, lower your right hand to your leg, a block, or the floor.
  5. Extend your left arm up toward the ceiling with your palm facing away from your body.
  6. Turn your gaze to look in any direction.
  7. Hold this pose for 30 seconds.
  8. Do the opposite side.

4. Intense Side Stretch Pose (Parsvottanasana)

Muscles worked:

  • erector spinal
  • pelvic muscles
  • quadriceps
  • hamstrings

Gif credit: Active Body. Creative Mind.

To do this:

  1. Stand with your right foot in front facing forward and your left foot slightly back and at an angle.
  2. The right heel should be in line with the left heel and your feet should be about 4 feet apart.
  3. Bring your hands to your hips and make sure your hips are facing forward.
  4. Slowly exhale to hinge at the hips to bring your torso forward on the right side, stopping when it’s parallel to the floor.
  5. Then, allow your torso to fold forward as you place your fingertips on the floor or on blocks on either side of your right foot.
  6. Drop your head down and tuck your chin into your chest.
  7. Press firmly into both feet and focus on dropping your left hip and torso down.
  8. Hold this pose for 30 seconds.
  9. Do the opposite side.

5. Two-knee spinal twist

Muscles worked:

  • erector spinal
  • rectus abdominis
  • trapezius
  • pectoralis major

Gif credit: Active Body. Creative Mind.

  1. Lie on your back and bring your knees to your chest.
  2. Extend your arms to the side with your palms facing down.
  3. Slowly drop your legs down to the left side, keeping your knees together.
  4. You can use a cushion under your knees or in between your knees.
  5. Your gaze may be in any direction.
  6. Breathe deeply and focus on letting go of tension.
  7. Hold this pose for 3–5 minutes.
  8. Do the opposite side.

6. Extended Puppy Pose

Muscles worked:

  • deltoids
  • trapezius
  • erector spinae
  • triceps

Gif credit: Active Body. Creative Mind.

  1. Come onto all fours in a tabletop position.
  2. Bring your hands forward slightly and come onto your toes with your heels lifted.
  3. Sink your buttocks halfway down toward your heels.
  4. Keep your arms active and your elbows lifted.
  5. Place your forehead on the floor or a blanket.
  6. Hold this pose for 3–5 minutes.

Taking steps to become more flexible can be a great way to connect to yourself and your body. You’re likely to feel more balanced and better overall once your body is more open, strong, and flexible.

Be cautious about starting a stretching program if you have a chronic condition or injury. If you have any health concerns speak to your doctor or physical therapist to decide upon the best approach.