Many of us spend far too much time sitting or generally being inactive. This as well as other common factors can lead to feeling tight and inflexible. Here you will learn 4 simple tips to help improve flexibility that you can begin using straight away!
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1. Weight training increases your flexibility!
Strength and resistance training is important when trying to increase your flexibility. When you weight train you are increasing the strength of the muscles through range of motion exercises against resistance. Stretching after each workout will help you improve your flexibility. Stretching post workout helps reset the muscle fibres to their resting position and also helps improve rate of recovery by removing the toxins like lactic acid from the muscle and soft tissue fibres.
2. Change up your stretching routine!
Don’t just do the same old stretching routine. Hamstring tightness is usually connected to lower back and pelvis dysfunction. So to get the most out of your stretch and to increase flexibility stretch the hamstrings and lower back muscles in the same session. By stretching both connecting areas you can maximise the benefit of the stretch and also increase the mobility of both areas at the same time. The same goes for hip flexors and lower back and quads. Stretch all three in the same session to decrease any muscular pain or dysfunction and increase range of motion of the lumbo-pelvic area.
3. Stretch before bed and or after exercise!
The best time to stretch for performance and sport is after the event, as a part of your cool down. Like I stated in tip number 2 stretching post exercise helps increase flexibility by resetting the muscle fibres and soft tissues in their original resting position. It also helps with recovery and lactic acid removal. The best way to warm up before exercise or performance is dynamic functional movements, you do the same type of movements that are involved in your sport or exercise. You should be performing these exercises between 60-70% of maximum. Build it up slowly so you don’t get injured before the event. It is all about getting the blood pumping and the heat into the muscles and soft tissues so your body is ready for action.
4. Static hold and PNF stretching is the best for increasing flexibility and range of motion!
The latest research reports that the best and most effective type of stretching is static hold stretching and PNF stretching. Static hold stretching is when you hold the muscle in a stretched position over time. For example if you want to stretch out your hamstring muscles, the golden oldie stretch is placing your leg on a chair that is at a lower height than your hips and holding that position for a minute. The key to stretching is to have your muscle under subtle tension, not at full stretch, you need a subtle tension for best results. Also breathing in and out whilst stretching helps you get the best out of your stretch. Stretching is hard work, you’re using energy and your nervous system, you need to breath through it.
PNF stands for Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation. It is one of the best ways to improve your flexibility and range of motion quickly. It involves a stretch, contraction and then a further stretch. It is used in clinical settings and also athletic environment for its quick and effective results. To perform the technique you place the working muscle in a subtle stretch position, hold this for 30 seconds. Then you contract that stretched muscle for 10 seconds and rest. Then finally you increase the stretched position and hold it in this increased stretch position for 30 seconds.