I wish I could answer yes to this question, but the reality is that I don’t stretch nearly as much as I should. The world of Yoga has increased substantially in the past few years, with classes popping up everywhere, and ranging for all styles and participants, and focuses on flexibility. I have gone to a few, but I am not a huge yoga person. Just because I don’t like yoga, though, doesn’t give me a free pass to skip out on flexibility training, namely, stretching.
What is Flexibility?
Flexibility training focuses on joint mobility, muscle flexibility, and reduction of muscular tension. Sometimes this is incorporated into a workout, or just added on at the end with the cool down. Yoga, for instance, combines the entire class with muscular strength and flexibility.
Why do I need to do it?
Flexibility training will improve joint mobility, which can help decrease the risk for injury, and could enhance physical performance. When you have the ability to move your joints their full Range of Motion, and do so without pain, it opens up more possibility for increased strength and performing to your greatest ability.
When and how should I do it?
Ideally, you should be stretching and working on flexibility 5-7 days a week, but 2-3 is ok as long as you are working each major muscle and tendon group. You should work your muscles to the end of Range of Motion, and without discomfort. You don’t want to keep pushing if you are in pain. There is a difference between feeling the stretch and pushing yourself too much and ending up in pain. That opens up the possibility for more injuries! You should perform 1-4 reps, holding between 15-60 seconds for each stretch, if it is a static stretch (meaning you are holding it there).
How should I stretch?
There are a few different methods of stretching. For one, you could take a yoga class, which focuses on elongating the body and works on flexibility. If you are just adding this to the end of a workout, or maybe you feel you are extra sore and need some stretching, you can choose from a couple.
Static Stretches– These involve targeting one muscle or a few muscles in one position, and holding it. If I stretch, these are the stretches I do, and usually perform 1 rep for each body part and hold it. Typically you should do 1-4 reps for each muscle group and hold between 15-60 seconds. But! Anything is better than nothing!
Dynamic Stretching- This involves stretching with movement, through your full range of motion. These can be controlled, or they can be a ballistic one. Ballistic stretches are bouncy and unsustained stretches. For instance, windmills done in a fast way, or bouncing up and down touching your toes. They are usually done faster. Dynamic stretching will push muscles to their full ROM, such as opening your arms up to both sides and holding it for a chest stretch.
So what are some examples?
Glad you asked that This week, I’m going to share some stretches I have been trying to add on to the end of the workout. You can do all of them, or just pick ones you think would work the best for the workout you just did. I typically work from top down, so I start with stretches in the upper body, and end with stretches in my toes.
And for photo demonstration:
And an extra because someone wanted in…
*Couple notes- The hamstring stretch has one leg slightly in front of the other and you press onto the heel of the leg in front. Not everyone will have their legs touch the ground in the butterfly, but just go until you feel it! The Glute stretch has one leg over the other and you pull in.
Do you guys like the photo demonstration? I thought it was hard to just write out the stretches, and I kind of liked doing them to show you. I have been toying with the idea of making a workout page and having photos of all the moves I put up in my workouts. Is that something you’d be interested in? Let me know in the comments!
So tell me…
How often do you stretch?
Maybe 2x a week but maybe 1x really well.
What stretches are your favorite?
Child pose is one of my favorites, along with the butterfly
Do you go to Yoga?
No, but I will do yoga OnDemand sometimes.