Flexibility is not my forte. In fact I am probably one of the least flexible people I know who trains regularly. Its also one of the most laborious and least fun activity that is within a training routine. But I have just recently started to realise just how important it really is to performance. Over the last year I had suffered numerous injuries that I began to relate to my stiff joints and inflexibilty. I had injured my shoulder, wrists, tricep, calf and back and had numerous joint pains and strength loss. It really limited my training and sports. So I decided to finally add some recovery training to my routine 3-4 times per week for only 15 minutes. This alone has made all the difference in the world.
Improving flexibility is not easy. It requires constant work on a very routine basis that most people just don’t have the passion for. But if you are serious about your training and are looking for performance based improvements I recommend getting into a stretching routine. I found that it did not have to be 45 minutes long with insane progression and forced at all. Just simple and light routine did the trick just fine. Its consistency over quantity.
Most people ( just like me ) look at stretching as boring, they don’t want to put in the time and don’t see enough improvements quick enough to make it worth it. I was the same. Until I decided to design my own quick routine that only takes 15 minutes and I perform 3-4 times per week. In just this small amount I have finally found some injury relief, strength gains, mobility and performance in all aspects of my training now all while realizing long boring stretching routines are just not required unless your a gymnast or something.
I don’t think I am ever going to be doing any splits any time soon, but a simple routine will get you to be a bit more injury proof and help negate sourness after some intense training sessions especially if you are like me and lead an incredibly intense and active life style.
During my stretching routine I generally do the entire body, I start at the calves and work my way up from there. Just 2-3 stretches per muscle at only 15 second holds or so. Doing stretches like downward dogs, runners lunges, cross body arm stretches etc. I don’t do anything crazy. I push my muscles to lengthen as best I can and only push my limits slightly. I am just stretching out some hard work with some light fare. You can design your routine the same way towards your goals. Everyone is different so where you focus your stretches should be where you want to see the most gain, if you have tight hamstrings like me focus your effort there, if you have tight shoulders concentrate on shoulder flexibility and mobility work etc.
I have found most people have stiff hamstrings like me so I do some extra work there and recommend it for others. It helps most training in general, especial ab work by increases your core compression movement which is a key performance limiter. So I work this area the most. But its all about where you currently are.
Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds as you progress in a few weeks and you will start to really see results. Don’t skip stretching but don’t make it a marathon either as you wont keep it up and fall off your routine.