"Flexibility falls under the 'use it or lose it' rule. You have to practice consistently, and the one thing people tend to forget is that strength and flexibility go hand in hand."
Practice a Variety of Stretches
Exercise books and videos offer differing advice on what stretch to do, how long to hold a stretch, how often you need to stretch, and so on. The answer to all of these questions is different from person to person and every expert will give different advice. What is important is that you make sure to take the time to lengthen your muscles in some way. It helps to know the four types of stretches :
- Active : This type of stretching is usually used within the warm-up of a training session. You can take almost any stretch and make it active by moving in and out of the stretch using your breath.
- Dynamic : This is another efficient technique within the warm-up. It involves momentum and muscular effort in order to move primary joints that are going to be used during activity. Big shoulder circles, leg swings, hip circles, and standing spinal rotations are all considered dynamic stretches.
- Passive : A passive stretch is considered a relaxing, cooling and calming type of stretch. Passive stretches do not require you to hold your body weight while lengthening a muscle. These are mostly done in the seated or lying down position, and exhaling is emphasized to recruit the relaxation response.
- Static : A static stretch is one that has no movement involved but muscles are recruited to hold the position. These exercises are usually, but not always, weight bearing in nature. Holding a High Lunge with your arms over your head, a Downward Facing Dog pose, and a Kneeling Hamstring Stretch are all considered static stretches.