About Flexibility Training
Flexibility is important because having flexible muscles allows your joints to move through a full range of motion. You need a certain amount of flexibility to move smoothly, avoid muscle tension and to keep your body protected from injury.
Stretching is one way to keep the body flexible, especially the muscles that are tight as a result of bad posture. Stretching is often overlooked but an important part of a complete exercise routine.
Types of Stretching
Ballistic - where you bounce with each stretch. This stretching technique usually comes with a high risk of injury. It is often used in the dance world.
Static - where you stretch to the point of resistance then hold for a period of time (15-30 seconds). Most fitness experts recommend this stretching method because you are able to increase range of motion.
Active - isolation or AI - with AI you hold each stretch for just two seconds, then relax, then stretch again. While holding the stretch, you also contract the opposing muscle to the one being stretched. (This method is commonly used at the beginning of an exercise session or fitness class).
Facts About Stretching
- Inactive muscles become shorter and their range of motion becomes more limited and more prone to injury.
- Stretching can increase flexibility if you do it consistently over a long period of time and will also help maintain flexibility as we get older.
- A basic 10 - 20 minute stretching routine should include all the major muscle groups. Do static (hold) stretches to ease you into position then hold them 15 - 30 seconds.
- Stretch after exercise or once you’ve warmed up. Never stretch tight, cold muscles. Warm up with either a few minutes of walking or jogging or with some light calisthenics.
- One would benefit from a 20 - 60 minute stretching program 2 - 3 times per week. Organized stretching classes like yoga, pilates and stretch/relaxation meditation classes help improve balance, relieve stress and is a nice compliment to strength training and cardio conditioning.
- Improved performance and reduce risk to injury
- Reduce muscle soreness and improve posture
- Reduce lower back pain
- Increase blood and nutrients to the body tissues
- Improve coordination
- Reduce stress