Flexibility is easily one of the most crucial aspects of any athlete’s physique – you can’t expect to perform well in your exercises, whatever they are, if your body lacks the fluidity of motion required to properly blend between some movements. Any sport you could be practicing can benefit greatly from an increase in your flexibility – and the best way to achieve that is by stretching properly before working out. It doesn’t take much to learn how to do it properly, and when you do, you’ll find out it makes a world of difference in your training performance.
There are some basic guidelines to follow when stretching – if you want to have maximum efficiency with it, you should do your best to stick to those “rules” and deviate from them as little as possible. First and most important, you need to properly warm up before starting to stretch. All of your muscles will become much more flexible and effective in training when they’re warmed up nicely, so you should take the time for a little warming up.
Also, never be harsh on yourself when stretching. Remember, the important thing here is to adjust your currently stiff muscles to conditions of strain and training, and if you want to achieve that, you’ll need to be gentle at first. You can easily risk actually injuring yourself while you’re stretching if you’re not careful – so going gradually and adjusting the strain little by little will be one of the best things you can do.
Stretching is vastly different from regular exercising when it comes to technique. Instead of rushing to perform each set quickly and move on to the next one, you should take your time and hold your body in a stretched position for a good amount of time at each repetition – your muscles need to remain stretched for at least several seconds to improve their condition before working out, otherwise your stretching will be more or less useless.
There are various techniques for performing the specific stretches themselves, such as dynamic stretching, ballistic stretching and isometric stretching. They all have their benefits and downsides, and it’s up to you to choose which ones you’ll incorporate into your routine. One piece of advice we can give you though, is to familiarize yourself with all of them as best as you can – you’ll never know just how efficient something is for you and your body type until you’ve actually given it a try – and don’t lead yourself by the progress of other people either, what works for someone else wouldn’t necessarily work for you as well.
That said, isometric stretching in particular has shown a great deal of success in many people, so if you want to try out something that is likely to work, start with this one. It involves using the resistance of your muscle groups with isometric contractions – though the specific technique of performing it goes a bit beyond what this article covers.