We all know stretching is important, and most of us don't do it enough. So make sure that every session is effective with these 5 tips that I've picked up over the years of training:
- Stretch warm muscles - Study after study shows, and confirms that the best time to do flexibility stretching is right after activity. So do your best to stretch after your workouts. But for the hard days the muscles might be a little too sore for deep stretching, and some days you're just too busy to fit in the extra time right after a workout. So if you have to stretch later, do so after a hot shower, or warm up the muscles with a quick yoga session. The extra 2-3 minutes of activity will make the stretching many times more effective.
- Repeat stretches multiple time in a session - Think of stretching like a strength workout, do the stretches in sets. Pick a series of stretches and repeat the routine 2 to 3 times. The portion of the stretching that does the most is the first 10-15 seconds where you get into the position, and actively increase the stretching. So repeating this is critical.
- Actively try to relax the muscles while stretching - Focus on the muscles being stretched, feel the stretch. Increase the stretch and breath into the muscles, focusing on relaxing it while holding the position and form.
- Stretch muscles in pairs - Only stretching one side of a joint can lead to imbalances, so when stretching across a joint, stretch the muscles for flexion and extension.
- Adjust your posture and form to target the muscles you need - Every stretch position targets multiple muscles, and we are all different. So for some a stretch might really stretch one muscle and for another, the same stretch might really stretch another. Design your stretching routine to target specific muscles, and know where they are. When stretching, adjust your position so you feel the stretch where it's supposed to be.
Try these and tell me if they helped you! What are your keys to getting a good stretching workout? Thanks for reading!