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How can I vary my flexibility exercise routine?

Flexibility training includes various forms of stretching to improve joint range of motion and muscle extensibility. Some common forms of flexibility training include static stretching (holding a stretched position for 20-30 seconds), massage, and dynamic stretching (e.g. arm circles, hip swings, jumping jacks).

The best flexibility training programs incorporate multiple forms of stretching to meet the needs of the individual. Each type of stretch creates different effects on the body, and can be used in combination to safely and effectively increase flexibility. Before your next workout start with some light static stretches and follow with dynamic stretching (3-5 exercises, 1 set, 10 reps).

There's more than one way to boost your balance and flexibility. Simple stretches can do the trick when you are short on time. Adding light dumbbells while you stretch can boost the demand on your body if you are fit. Organized exercises such as Pilates, yoga, tai chi, and chi-gong (qigong) can help add interest and variety to your flexibility and balance workout. A session with a personal trainer may lead you to more exercises and equipment options for boosting your balance.

Robert DeVito
Fitness

All stretching is not the same. Static (no movement, long holds) stretching and Dynamic Flexibility (constant movement, mimics or mirrors a movement in life or in fitness) are completely separate things.

Take note that at IFS all of your warm-ups are built around Dynamic Flexibility, Core Stabilization and Static Flexibility.

These movements are used to prepare your body for movement, increase core body temperature and blood flow, excite the nervous system (keep it clean!!!) and ignite dormant/inactive muscles.

A static stretch would be useful for muscle recovery post-workout to reset the nervous system and create a better balance between underused and overused muscles (agonist/antagonist) and/or during the day to reactivate dormant muscles and lengthen the shortened muscles usually caused by lifestyle/postural imbalances.

Foam rolling - is a type of flexibility exercise that focuses on releasing adhesions (knots) in the fascia (connective tissue that surrounds and protects muscles).

So, as you see, the warm-up that occurs during your metabolic session is dynamic in nature (arm circles, lateral lunges, reverse crunches etc...). However, there is certainly a place for static stretching.

Last - it is best to minimize static stretching of a muscle or muscle group immediately prior to training them. Static stretching has been shown to decrease performance in this environment. The latest and most widely accepted information relates to the energetic cost of reciprocal inhibition (big fancy term for the opposing muscles and their balance/imbalance), the level of shortness and the S.A.I.D. and "path of least resistance" principles.

Meaning that your body would prefer to fight for a while to keep you where you are than allow for you to "relax" and be balanced. If this were performed prior to strength training you would have wasted much energy and accomplished very little.

Ideal movement/warm-up - 

5-10 minutes light cardio
5-10 minutes rolling
5-10 minutes dynamic flexibility
WORKOUT
5-10 minutes static and dynamic flexibilty

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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.