When it comes to exercise and fitness, stretching is extremely important for a variety of reasons: it helps prevent injury, it increases your mobility, increases blood circulation, and the list goes on… But a mere five minutes of stretching before a run, weight lifting, etc. might not make the cut. Frequent flexibility training in order to upkeep a basic foundation of flexibility will help your body function better all-around. This post offers five, simple to understand flexibility standards will help you to determine what areas you need to work on to optimize your performance.
“If you look around any commercial gym, you’re likely to see a wide variety of activities taking place: strength training, aerobics, simulated bicycle riding, people doing god-knows-what on a vibrating stability platform, and of course, good ol’ stretching. Most gyms even have a designated stretch area. Though you sometimes see serious-minded folk in these rooms, the stretching area in many fitness facilities seems to be primarily for people who want to screw around, be seen at the gym and feel like they accomplished something productive.
For this reason (as well as others), a lot of serious strength training enthusiasts are quick to overlook or even decry flexibility training. Some even argue that static stretching will actually hinder your strength gains and athletic performance. Though I believe stretching is generally more helpful than harmful, there is some truth to these claims. Prolonged static stretching immediately prior to intense dynamic movement can be a recipe for injury. For example, performing ten minutes of static hamstring stretches right before a set of plyometric jump squats may relax your legs too much, temporarily reducing their ability to explosively contract. When you suddenly go into that jump, you may pull a muscle or land poorly.”