Trying to improve flexibility and range-of-motion can be extremely frustrating, which is one of the main reasons why many people don’t stretch. There are several important elements of proper stretching; however there are three critical factors in realizing fast and consistent results. All experts agree that a proper warm-up prior to stretching is critical; therefore, the three areas discussed in this article are in addition to warming up.
#1. MEASURE PROGRESS DURING AND AFTER STRETCHING
Basic psychology states that humans react much better when progress can be quantified. Anytime a goal can be set and backed up with measured results, people will tend to stick with and progress within that system. Regardless if it’s an individual trying to become more flexible, a physical therapist or a coach wanting improved flexibility, it’s critical to be able to set and achieve goals with measured results. There’s a big difference in “perceived results” and “proven results”.
#2. PROPER TECHNIQUE WHILE STRETCHING
Most people have no idea how to stretch properly, especially static stretching (holding the stretch). Correct posture or spine angle is extremely important due to the fact that if the low back is rounded (poor posture), it’s very difficult to safely and effectively isolate the targeted muscles. The majority of people when stretching, round their lower back when sitting on the floor, which puts great stress on the low back, causes tension, in addition to causing poor isolation on the target areas.
#3. RELAXATION WHILE STRETCHING
Relaxation is paramount in trying to become flexible. This is the main factor in the benefits of partner or assisted stretching. Bottom line is that the target muscles must be relaxed (opposite of contraction) in order to realize the benefits of static stretching and most people are tense during their stretch.