6 Stretching Techniques
Find out how you can increase the effectiveness of your stretching routine with these tips.
1. Feel the Muscle You’re Targeting
As you slowly proceed through the movement, you should feel a stretching sensation in your muscle as it lengthens and relaxes. If you feel a sharp pain in a joint, such as your knee, you have either gone too far or your technique is at fault. If you feel nothing at all, you have either not gone far enough or, again, are using the wrong technique.
2. Relax Your Muscles
Many people tense up as they stretch, for example, hunching their shoulder towards their ears. Don’t. Notice whether you are clenching any other muscles and gently allow them to release as you exhale.
3. Breathe in to Your Stretches
If you breathe slowly and deeply as you stretch, you’ll increase blood flow and make your stretching more effective. Always exhale as you move into the stretch. As you hold, inhale by expanding the abdomen, ribcage and chest, then exhale as you visualize your breath flowing through the tension you feel in your muscle.
4. Stretch Each and Every Day
When it comes to flexibility, what you don’t use, you lose – and quickly. The lesson: it is much better to stretch a little every day than to do a long stretching routine once or twice a week.
5. Hold Stretches Longer Where You’re Least Flexible
Prevent muscle imbalances by training the major muscle groups equally. If you are tighter on one side of your body, stretch that muscle for twice as long or repeat a stretch on that side to even things out.
6. Use Proper Body Alignment
It’s easy to cheat when you stretch, but then you fail to get the stretch you need. The most typical “cheating’ is rounding your back. In 95 per cent of all stretches, you want to keep your spine long and flat. Before bending forward into any stretch, bend from the hips, not the waist. As you bend forward, your pubic bone should move forward while your tailbone moves back and up.