Recently, we have gotten a lot of inquiries from patients and clients regarding how to decrease tightness and improve mobility.
This has led to a lot of conversations regarding stretching including what to do and what not to do to get the most out of your routine and exercise program.
This month, I wanted to share my top 3 tips with you so you can better improve your flexibility.
#1 Don’t Rush.
I find that most people do not hold their stretches long enough. Research indicates that stretches need to be held a minimum of 90 seconds to show increased length in the muscle tissue. This can be done in one repetition or broken up into segments such as 3 repetitions of 30 seconds.
We will typically rush through our stretches and even if we intend to hold it for longer, sometimes our count is a bit faster than the actual clock.
Next time you sit down to stretch, make sure you are taking your time and stretching your muscles for the appropriate amount of time.
#2 Be Gentle!!
Another thing I see a lot is people pulling on their muscles until they feel a big pull.
Did you know that this is actually counter-productive?
You see, we have receptors in our tendons that monitor how much stretch is on a muscle. If the stretch is too much, they will send a signal to tighten that muscle to protect itself from injury which is the exact opposite of what we intend to do while stretching our muscles.
The perfect sweet spot for stretching is to find the zone of “gentle tension”. This is when you feel a gentle stretch but not a big or painful pull. If you stretch in this zone, you allow your muscles to actually release and relax.
#3 Figure out why you are feeling tight.
Often times, when there is a tight muscle, there is usually a muscular imbalance somewhere. For example, a lot of people struggle with tightness in their upper shoulders when they have weak postural muscles. Another example would be people with tight hamstrings usually will have an issue going on with their core muscles engaging appropriately.
Stretching will help temporarily, but getting to the root cause of why you are having tension will fix the problem for good.
Those are my best stretching tips and solutions to my most commonly seen stretching mistakes! Hope this helps you get more out of your stretching routine!