Flexibility training is the easiest form of exercise to neglect. Adding a few extra minutes before and after your normal workout, or carving out ten minutes a day to stretching is all it takes if you don’t exercise regularly. So what are we missing out on when skipping these exercises?
There are a multitude of benefits to having increased flexibility, whether you’re a serious athlete or not. Increasing your flexibility means your body will function better because you’ll experience less back and joint pain. This means your joints are less likely to deteriorate as you age.
In addition to fewer injuries, you’ll be able to play your sport better and longer if flexibility continues to be a priority. When you include stretching to your regular workout, make sure you’re focusing on the right method.
- What you probably imagine when you hear “stretching” is being in an extended position for 20 to 30 seconds. This is called static stretching, this type of stretching should be done after your workout as a cool down to gradually lower your heart rate and body temperature. As a warm-up, you should focus on dynamic stretching.
- Dynamic stretching involves using your full range of motion with body weight movements, like squats and lunges. Moving around like this will do a better job of warming up the muscles around your joints, making you less likely to injure yourself. A third kind of stretching you might see is ballistic stretching.
- Ballistic stretching forces your body to perform its fullest stretch using sharp, quick movements. This does very little to actually improve your flexibility and can actually increase your risk of injury. So, utilize dynamic stretching before a workout, cool down with traditional static stretching and avoid ballistic stretching all together.
Also, don’t cut corners by stretching one side and not the other; make sure your stretches are balanced and avoid over stretching or bouncing, as you’ll get an extra centimeter out of your stretch. Stretch until you feel just a little tightness, not pain.
Make it a point to stretch for the next few weeks and see if you notice the difference yourself!