Most times, when people think of the word "fitness", muscular training and cardiovascular training comes to mind. These are beneficial of course, however, flexibility training is just as important yet undervalued the most.
What is flexibility?
Flexibility is more than being able to touch your toes. Flexibility is the range of motion around a joint or the ability to move joints through a full range of motion. When you have improper flexibility or lack of flexibility training you are putting your body at risk for muscle imbalances. Muscle imbalances cause you to have improper posture, improper movement, and eventually pain in muscles/joints or injury.
What are the benefits of flexibility training?
Improves joint pain
Improves athletic performance
Improves joint range of motion
Improves muscle tightness
How do I implement flexibility training?
There are are a few different kinds of stretching but I will address the two most common and useful. It is best that you implement both; static and dynamic stretching!
Static- simply put, static stretching is when you hold a stretch for 30 seconds-60 seconds and then move on to the next stretch. Best implemented after a workout. Doing static stretching before workouts increases your chances of injury! Static can also be done at home when trying to work on increasing your range of motion, relieve muscle tightness, etc.
Dynamic- simply put, dynamic stretching is when you move your body through a stretch as opposed to holding it. Best implemented before a workout to loosen up and warm up the muscles.
Here is a static stretching routine that I do at home to get you started!
Full Body Static Stretch (hold each for 30 seconds):
Neck Stretch- pull neck to each side
Shoulder Stretch- Reach your bent arm behind your head and pull your elbow
Triceps Stretch- Reach your straight arm across your chest and pull at your wrist
Sky reach- Breathe in and reach to the sky as high as you can
Side Reach- Place on arm on hip and with other arm straight up reach to the opposite side
Quad Stretch- Bend leg and pull at foot
Toe Touch- Breathe in and try to touch your toes
Figure 4-Bend one leg in and reach for your other leg while keeping the leg on the ground
Cross Thigh Stretch- Keep one leg straight in front of you and bend/cross the other leg. pull bent leg towards your chest
Thigh Hug- lay on your back and bend one leg. Pull the leg against your chest
Windmill Stretch- lay on back. With both legs straight cross one leg across your body while keeping the other on the ground