How to Stretch and Improve Your Flexibility

Stretching is an important component of muscular fitness for beginning and advanced trainers alike.

Good flexibility has the following benefits:

  • Allows your muscles to work in a greater range of motion.
  • Can prevent injury
  • Can ease muscular pain.
  • Helps speed recovery.
  • Is a good way to cool down after weight training.

 

How to Stretch and Improve Your Flexibility

 

There are three main types of stretching: Static, Ballistic and PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation).

  • Static stretching is the standard stretch and hold method. Static stretching is the safest and most useful form for weight-trainers.
  • Ballistic stretching, which is harder on the muscles, involves using momentum to stretch the muscles.
  • PNF stretching is a more advanced technique that involves exerting muscular force against something (a person giving resistance, for example) then immediately stretching the muscle that was exerting the force.

 

Stretching can be done before the workout, between sets and after the workout.

  • When stretching before the workout, do so only lightly as the muscles are not warmed up yet and therefore not as pliable.
  • In between sets, try stretching out the muscle group you're working to speed recovery.
  • Immediately after your workout, when your muscles are warm and limber, is the best time to stretch for improving your flexibility.
  • Hold stretches for 2 to 3 sets of 20 to 60 seconds each to get the full benefit. Holding for less than 20 seconds will give you a temporary increase in range of motion while stretching for 20 or more seconds affects the plastic, permanent aspect of the muscles and connective tissue.
  • Do not stretch past the point of pain and do not do stretches that are dangerous or cause pain.



There are a tremendous number of stretches that are safe and effective. Here are a few simple stretches you can do:

 

 

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