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How To Gain Flexibility


Have you recently gone to pick something up and you suddenly realize your back and legs are tight? Or maybe you tried to touch your toes and were immediately humbled (it's happened to all of us.) Even if you exercise often, flexibility is something you can easily lose if you don't stretch regularly. And most of my clients admit that after a workout, stretching doesn't always happen. If you want to get your flexibility back or just improve it, here's a guide to help.


Know the different types of stretching:

Self-myofascial Rolling

Self-myofascial rolling, commonly known as foam rolling, is a form of self-massage using a foam roller or other similar tools. It involves rolling over specific muscle groups to release tension and improve mobility. It can be done before or after exercise.


Benefits:

  • Foam rolling can alleviate muscle knots and trigger points, improving blood flow and reducing muscle soreness.

  • Regular use can enhance flexibility and joint mobility.

  • Foam rolling can help prevent injuries by identifying and addressing tight areas before they become problematic.


How to do it:

  • Select a muscle group (e.g., quadriceps, hamstrings, or calves).

  • Position the foam roller beneath the muscle group.

  • Gently roll back and forth, pausing on areas of tension for 20-30 seconds.

  • Breathe deeply and relax into the pressure.


Static Stretching

Static stretching involves lengthening a muscle and holding it in a fixed position for a set period, typically 15-30 seconds.It can help fix muscle imbalances and can be done before or after exercise.


Benefits:

  • Static stretching gradually increases muscle length, enhancing overall flexibility.

  • It can promote relaxation and reduce muscle tension.

  • Regular static stretching can help prevent muscle imbalances and reduce the risk of injury.


How to do it:

  • Choose the muscle group you want to stretch.

  • Gently stretch the muscle to a point where you feel tension but not pain.

  • Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds, breathing deeply and evenly.

  • Release the stretch slowly and repeat if necessary.


Active Stretching

Active stretching involves using the strength of opposing muscles to stretch a particular muscle group. It's often used to improve flexibility and increase the range of motion. It is recommended as a warm up activity before exercise.


Benefits:

  • Active stretching can gradually increase flexibility and joint mobility.

  • It helps develop better control over your muscles.

  • This type of stretching activates muscles, making it great for warming up before exercise.


How to do it:

  • Choose the muscle group you want to stretch.

  • Use the strength of opposing muscles to stretch the target muscle.

  • Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds, maintaining tension with opposing muscles.

  • Release the stretch slowly and repeat if necessary.


Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretching involves moving through a full range of motion repeatedly to increase blood flow and flexibility. It's typically used as a warm-up before physical activities.


Benefits:

  • Dynamic stretching prepares muscles and joints for more extensive movements.

  • It increases blood flow, warming up the body faster.

  • Can improve agility, speed, and coordination.


How to do it:

  • Choose a series of movements that target the muscle groups you want to warm up.

  • Perform these movements smoothly and progressively, gradually increasing the range of motion.

  • Continue for 5-10 minutes or until you feel adequately warmed up.


Incorporating a combination of self-myofascial rolling, static stretching, active stretching, and dynamic stretching into your fitness routine can significantly enhance your flexibility, mobility, and overall physical well-being. The key is to choose the right type of stretching for the right moment, whether it's to warm up before a workout or to cool down and relax after exercise. By doing so, you'll unlock your body's potential, reduce the risk of injury, and improve your overall performance.


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