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How can I train to improve my flexibility?

Paul Winsper
Sports Medicine

Train to improve your flexibility by stretching only the tight muscles for 20-30 seconds in all three planes of motion, and follow any stretching routine with some basic dynamic movements. Many individuals incorrectly assume that all muscles should be stretched, however it is important to only stretch the muscles that have identified as tight through an assessment process. Some key muscles that tend to be tight in many people that should be addressed are the muscles of your calves, the muscles in front of your hip, and your chest muscles. Unnecessarily stretching muscles that are already at an optimum length can decrease the performance of those muscles. In addition, muscles work in three planes of motion so it is important to stretch a muscle in all of the ways it will move. To get the most out of a stretch, hold it for a minimum of 20-30 seconds. This helps ensure that the muscle relaxes and lengthens. Lastly, it is a good idea to perform some basic dynamic movements after you stretch. This will help you to control the new range of motion you just developed. For example, if you stretch your calves and hips, you can perform a basic movement, such as a body weight squat, to control the new ankle and hip range of motion.

To improve your flexibility, you should perform both static and dynamic stretching. In the morning, perform dynamic stretches that move each of your targeted muscles and joints through their full range of motion. This sets the length of the muscle for the day at a greater length versus doing nothing. Later in the day, perform static stretches – holding each stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds. This helps you maintain the your flexibility. Your flexibility program should receive just as much attention as your resistance training program. Perform flexibility exercises daily to see results.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.