If you are looking to increase your flexibility, here is a little fun fact: your flexibility partly depends upon genetics! But, that fact alone should not deter you because research also shows that no matter your genetics, everyone can still increase their flexibility by at least 20-25%. You may feel that it is impossible to fight the natural stiffness of your muscles, but with consistent effort, time, and adherence to training principles, you will notice improvements in your flexibility.
The first question you might be asking is how often should I stretch? Scientists have not concluded a single one-size-fits-all answer to this question, but most research suggests that by stretching anywhere between 3-6 days per week depending on whether or not you have injuries caused by muscle tighness) you will improve your flexibility while also helping to relieve pain and stiffness. For each of these stretching days, you will only need to stretch once, unless you are currently working on pain or other issues that require stretchng more frequently.
On the days you choose to work on your flexibility, you will also want to make sure you know how long you should stretch. While you may worry about finding time in your life for something like stretching, consider this: if you take only 5-10 minutes per day, you will see significant improvements. Each position should be held for at least 30 seconds, so in just 5-10 minutes, you could be stretching 10-20 muscle groups!
What should stretching feel like? If you have ever gone to a yoga class, you may have contorted yourself into a position that was impossibly painful. While yoga should be difficult work, improving your flexibility should not be. Most experts agree that the most effective stretching is gradual and comfortable. To stretch properly, you should only push your body slightly; it should feel a little uncomfortable, but not painful.
After a while, you will notice that what previously felt uncomfortable, now feels natural and easy. But, how long will it take for these improvements to become noticeable? Increasing your flexibility may take weeks or months. Because of this, it can be easy for people to quit too soon. Continue with regular flexibility training for at least 6 weeks. If you do not see any results at the end of those 6 weeks, consider consulting with Dr. T for some different stretching positions or routines.
Regular stretching and improving your flexibility are great way to help prevent injury, decrease aches, and keep your body performing at its best. Stretching is also one of the best ways you can show your body appreciation for all that it does throughout the day!
Do you have questions about stretching or want some help with routines? Ask Dr. T during your next visit! Click here to book an appointment online or give our office a call at (813) 983-7921.