Can’t touch your toes? Stiff hips? Tight hamstrings? It’s time to loosen up – well, your diet anyway - if you want to improve your flexibility.
As well as practicing exercises like Pilates and yoga, there are some foods you can eat that’ll actually help your body to become more flexible.
Julie Montagu, The Flexi Foodie and author of Superfoods: The Flexible Approach to Eating More Superfoods, comments: “Including a wide variety of ripe, fresh fruits in your diet is great for improving flexibility.
“Fruit has a high water content and can therefore help to hydrate your body as well as work to flush out acids. Dark leafy green vegetables are also great for flexibility for the same reason. The high water content of fruits and dark leafy green vegetables is beneficial because adequate hydration helps the muscles to stretch.”
So try adding some of these ten flexible foods and drinks to your diet and you’ll be touching your toes in no time:
Nutritionist Scott Baptie explains: “Oranges are packed with vitamin C which helps combat free radicals. We produce more free radicals when we exercise so not only can oranges help reduce the risk of chronic diseases, they can also help with recovery and staying flexible.”
2. Grape juice
“Rich in flavonoids which can raise HDL [‘good’] cholesterol, resveratrol which can reduce cancer risk, and nitric oxide which can improve cardiovascular health, grape juice packs a lot of health benefits, including improving joint health,” says Scott.
3. Oily fish
Yet another reason to stock up on oily fish: “Oily fish is rich in essential polyunsaturated fatty acids like omega-3s. Research shows that omega-3 fats have multiple health benefits such as improving heart health, lowering blood pressure and reducing inflammation,” says Scott.
“Some studies have also shown that omega-3s can enhance joint mobility in adults with osteoarthritis.”
4. Protein (like chicken, dairy, fish, beans and pulses)
In order to stay strong and supple it’s important to avoid injury and prevent muscle loss which can happen as we age, Scott says: “Protein-rich foods are not only great to help keep hunger pangs at bay but they’re key to maintaining a flexible figure.”
Avocados are a great plant-based source of omega-3. So if you’re not really a fan of fish, these make a great alternative.
“Keeping your fluids topped up is key if you want to stay flexible. Our muscles are largely composed of water and it’s this water content that is key for muscle elasticity,” says Scott.
Julie adds: “I always suggest that you continue to hydrate throughout the day instead of waiting to become thirsty. In doing so, you will be lubricating your joints, as well as keeping your muscles and entire body flexible.”
Blueberries have many anti-inflammatory properties which can help muscles recover and prevent sore joints.
Scott explains: “Researchers in Spain found that watermelon may enhance athletic performance and reduce muscle soreness due to it containing the amino acid L-citrulline.”
“Including ginger in your diet can help to promote flexibility because it has a stimulating effect on the circulatory system,” says Julie. “Ginger is also good for reducing inflammation which can contribute to increased flexibility. You can either buy ginger fresh and include it in your cooking or purchase a ginger herbal tea.”
It’s fast becoming this year’s super herb and Julie explains why: “Turmeric, like ginger, is also anti-inflammatory and useful for improving circulation. It is also great for muscle repair which makes it an all-round winner for flexibility.”
Scott Baptie is a nutritionist, fat loss expert and podcast host. You can find lots of helpful nutrition resources on his website Food For Fitness.