A regular stretching program not only increases flexibility but improves muscular endurance and muscular strength. Muscles that are pliable and stretched are more efficient in muscular movements and fluidity. They have greater ability to exert maximum force through a wider range of motion.
For example, if your hamstrings are so tight that you can’t touch your toes while keeping your legs straight, you won’t be able to incorporate the straight leg dead-lift (an awesome move) into your exercise program until you’ve lengthen that muscle.
Other benefits of stretching include prevention of some lower back pain, improved body alignment and posture. This will lead to improved appearance and self image, read: you’ll look slimmer and more confident.
Try to include all major muscle groups in your stretch program.
Here’s a full body stretch program for you to incorporate at the end of your workout. I like to work from head to toe, standing to seated to lying. Try it out and let me know how you feel afterwards.
While you’re stretching, congratulate yourself for showing to your training, breath deeply and relax. Celebrate what you accomplished and take pleasure in how good you feel — it’ll keep you coming back.
30 Second Stretch-hold Position
Flexibility is dependent on the “duration” of stretching position, and the researchers show the best “stretch-hold position” is 30 seconds. (The effect of time on static stretch on the flexibility of the hamstring muscles, 1994, Bandy).
Slow Motion Rule
It’s important to move carefully and slowly into the stretched-out position. Once you’re there, hold it 30 seconds. And move in slow motion to change positions.
I believe that it takes weeks to realize flexibility gains — unlike other forms of exercise that provide positive results quickly. With stretching, it’s like the body fights flexibility gains for the first few weeks. Then, after some weeks of training (sometimes months, right Pierre??) , the body stops resisting and agrees to increase flexibility.
So, if you’ve tried stretching before and didn’t see results, hang in there. Stretching provides many wonderful benefits.