Stretching is not rocket science. Follow these 3 tips for success...
"You have to stretch more."
We've all heard it and most of us have been told by someone at some point that we need to stretch something. Stretching is a pretty simple concept but many people become like a deer in headlights when it comes to actually doing it.
What stretch should I do? How long do I stretch? Should it hurt? etc.
There are literally hundreds of different stretches you can do and hundreds of different opinions on which ones are the best. I've had people bring me their 'packet' of stretches they got and are so overwhelmed that they don't do any of them because it would take all day.
I share the same sentiment that most people do...I hate stretching! Everyone does.
Its boring and it hurts.
But, and this is a big but, it does help and there probably are stretches you SHOULD be doing.
Here is the 3 step formula...
#1 - Don't Stretch Cold Muscles
#2 - Stretch The Tight Stuff Only
#3 - Hold The Stretch For As Long As You need to
Let's go through these step by step...
#1 - Don't stretch cold muscles.
I've had people tell me they stretch first thing in the morning before they get out of bed. Not good!
You want the muscle group you are going to stretch to warm up a bit and get some blood flowing into it before you start cranking on it.
This means that you need to be moving around for a while before you stretch anything. When the muscle group is already warmed up you will get more of the tissues stretched and it will take less time to actually accomplish what you are trying to accomplish.
The #1 goal of stretching is to lengthen the tissues you are stretching.
That's it. Nothing more.
#2 - Stretch the tight stuff only!
You don't need to stretch every muscle in your body, just the tight stuff. For most people this will be hamstrings, hips, and or shoulders. You want to zero in on the muscle groups that are tight and stretch CONSISTENTLY. You are not going to change the length of a muscle group that has been tight for 10 years in a day or two. It will take consistent stretching daily to accomplish the goal.
#3 - Hold the stretch for as long as you need to.
People always ask me, 'how long should I stretch?'
STRETCH FOR AS LONG AS IT TAKES!
When you stretch a muscle you're not just stretching the 'muscle'. You are stretching a muscle group. There are multiple layers of muscle, fascia, tendons, possibly scar tissue adhesion, etc.
Also, you are stretching against time, previous injury, and your own genetics.
If your hamstrings have been tight since you were a toddler and you've had multiple injuries during your life, it's going to take a different amount of time to stretch and elongate those tissues.
Some people are naturally very flexible and some people have the flexibility of Oak. Regardless, you can always make changes with consistency.
You may be able to stretch a muscle group in 10 seconds, or it make take a couple minutes of holding the stretch. It takes as long it takes for the muscle group to release.
Once you start doing a stretch consistently you will feel when it releases.