Over the last two weeks I’ve given you the reasoning and the practical information for integrated whole-body stretching. What we haven’t covered yet is the ‘how to’. Read on to find out how to tie all you’ve learnt together and get some real stretching results.
Life in the noughties has us increasingly sitting more. It fixes us in a posture termed ‘triple flexion’, where the hip, knee and ankle joints are all in the flexed position. Prolonged periods like this result in a shortening of the muscles in these areas. This is why so many of us have tight hamstrings, hip flexors, calf muscles and ankles.
When is the best time to stretch?
The body does the majority of its tissue healing at night, so stretching muscles just before bedtime will cause them to heal in a lengthened state. Stretching first thing in the morning will improve energy levels. Be sure to stretch when the body is warm or at a temperature that will cause a light sweat.
How deeply should a stretch be felt?
Stretch deeply enough to feel the elongation and to extend the range of motion of the joint. If a stretch causes the muscle to fire, quiver or shake, it is too deep and you should ease off.
What if I don’t feel the stretch?
If a certain posture does not provide a stretch for you, double check the photo to ensure that you are doing it correctly. If you still don’t feel a stretch then you are very likely flexible enough in this area and you may wish to leave this stretch out of the program to allow more time to focus on other more challenging postures.
We’ve used the TRX suspension trainer to assist us with these stretches. You can purchase one of these from www.slingfitness.com