I'm Confused About Stretching And Flexibility. Help!

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I'm Confused About Stretching And Flexibility. Help!

I have heard a lot of different things about how to become more flexible, and about when I should stretch. What exercises should I do? How do I do them? Please help!

Here is a guide with illustrations for you to follow! Hope this helps.

Warm-up

Contrary to what most believe it is vital that one, prior to conducting any exercises or stretching, elevate their body temperature in attempt to avoid injury. To raise your temperature, begin a leisure to brisk walk and continue on for 5-10 minutes.

Stretching Basics

Note: If you have recently undergone surgery or experienced muscle / joint problems consult with your health care professional prior to starting a stretching program.

  • Hold stretches, which feel good, do not force a stretch.
  • You should be relaxed while concentrating on the muscle being stretched.
  • Breathing slow, deep, and rhythmical.
  • Do not concentrate on how far you are stretching.
  • Be consistent to improve.
  • Stretching regularly will promote excellent flexibility and improved muscle performance.

Easy Stretch - The easy stretch lessens tightness while preparing muscle tissues for what is called a developmental stretch.

  • Do this stretch slowly and avoid bouncing.
  • Avoid stretching till pain or discomfort become apparent.
  • Hold the easy stretch for 5 - 10 seconds.
  • As you hold the stretch tension will diminish if it is done in the proper and comfortable fashion.

Developmental Stretch - The developmental stretch should be performed after the easy stretch. This stretch allows you to move a fraction further into the stretch till you experience mild tension. Over time the developmental stretch will reduce tension and safely increases flexibility.

  • Hold the developmental stretch for 5 - 20 seconds.
  • The stretch tension should slightly vanish but may stay the same.
  • If tension increases to pain you are overstretching and should ease off into a more comfortable stretch.

Exercises

Chest Pull

Muscles targeted: Chest (Pectoral Major.) & Frontal Shoulder (Anterior Deltoid).

  • Standing face a door frame or have a partner stand behind you
  • Place hands on frame at shoulder level. Walk through doorway till slight tension felt in chest muscles. A partner should slowly pull back and up on your arms getting the same result.
Side Bends

Muscles Targeted: Side Abdominals (Obliques) & Back (Latissimus Dorsi)

  • Stand erect, feet shoulder width apart.
  • Raise one arm above head; place other hand on opposite hip.
  • Bend to opposite side of lifted arm.
  • Repeat identically with opposite side.
Side Bends

Muscles Targeted: Side Abdominals (Obliques) & Back (Latissimus Dorsi)

  • Stand erect, feet shoulder width apart.
  • Raise one arm above head; place other hand on opposite hip.
  • Bend to opposite side of lifted arm.
  • Repeat identically with opposite side.
Alternate Thigh Stretch

Muscles Targeted: (Quadriceps)

  • Stand facing wall.
  • Hold top of right foot behind you using right hand.
  • Gently pull heel toward buttocks.
  • Repeat identically for other side.
Inner Thigh Stretch

Muscles Targeted: Groin (Adductor)

  • Place soles of feet together, pull heels in close to buttocks.
  • Slowly press knees down to floor & lean forward at hips.
Toe Touches

Muscles Targeted: Lower back, hamstrings

  • Seated with legs straight in front, hands on thighs, bend slowly reaching toward toes.
  • Keep head & back straight as you ease into a stretch.
Calf Stretch

Muscles Targeted: Gastrocnemius, Soleus, Achilles Tendon

  • Stand facing wall, about three feet away.
  • Place palms on wall and feet flat on the floor.
  • Lean forward like in a push-up
  • position.
Thigh Stretch - Below.

Muscles Targeted: Front portion of leg (Quadriceps).

  • Lie on left side with head resting palm of left hand.
  • Hold top of right foot with your right hand.
  • Gently pull right heel toward right buttock.
  • Repeat identically for the other side.
Lower Back Stretch - Below.

Muscles Targeted: Lower back, Hamstrings

  • Lie flat on floor, on back, legs extended, and pull right knee into chest.
  • Press back to ground.
  • Hold position and repeat with left knee.

REFERENCE
1. Training: stretching and flexibility. New York State Police. http://www.troopers.state.ny.us/RecTprs/RecPAT/Stretch.html. 29 Oct 2002.

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