We bet you haven’t even thought about it but without enough flexibility, you can’t get out of bed or pick up your kids. Over time, as you age, your flexibility naturally deteriorates. But if you’re sedentary, then your flexibility will suffer too. Exercising regularly – as well as stretching correctly – is one way to keep joints, tendons and muscles flexible and supple. Remember that by improving your flexibility, you can realise greater gains in your muscular endurance, your fitness and your strength. You’ll also have to deal with fewer injuries. Here are five tips to ensure you maintain a healthy level of flexibility.
- Include flexibility training in your workout programme
Too often, flexibility is the after-thought and not the focus of an exercise. According to Foundations of Professional Personal Training With Web Resource, you should stretch after every workout. It is recommended that you perform flexibility training 4 to 7 days a week.
- Make sure you’re warm BEFORE you stretch
Many people start their workout with a stretch. But even a gentle stretch, done before your muscles are warm, can cause injury and damage. We recommend you warm up with say, a walk or a slow swim, before you stretch. And perhaps keep your flexibility training for the end of your workout, when your muscles are really warm.
- Use both static and dynamic stretches
Static stretches are those that simply stretch a muscle or tendon while you move very little. For example, when you bend over to touch your toes to stretch your hamstrings. Usually, you perform a static stretch for about 20 to 30 seconds, before resting and repeating the stretch.
Dynamic stretches are those which work a joint through its whole range of motion. For example, you stand on one leg, and then swing the other forward and back to warm up the hip flexor. “According to Elite Soccer Conditioning.com, dynamic exercise prepares the muscles for the activity by waking up their stretch-shortening complex, increasing muscle temperature, and stimulating the nervous system, which results in greater power output.”
- Don’t feel the burn
You should “feel” the stretch. But if it hurts, you’re probably pushing too hard, or you’re doing it incorrectly (or both). Always perform each stretch slowly at first, paying careful attention to form and technique. Once you’ve got that down, you can push a little further to test your flexibility and progress.
Your muscles use oxygen as a fuel to keep working. And stretching is, in a way, work. So keep breathing during your stretches. Not only does it relax you (prevent injuries), it also ensures your muscles get sufficient oxygen.
If you find that your flexibility is really poor, consider signing up for a yoga or Pilates class, where you will be guided toward greater flexibility. Or hire a trainer, who can give you not only the right physical training, but also the right flexibility training. Better yet, qualify as a personal trainer yourself, and never again experience stiffness! Check out the Comprehensive Personal Trainer certification on offer at Trifocus Fitness Academy. Register now!