Becoming flexible involves maximizing your range of motion and stability. Flexibility training helps to increase blood flow and it also reduces the risk of potential injuries. There are three traditional stretching exercises that will help improve flexibility: static, dynamic, and isometric/PNF. These techniques should be incorporated into your workout routine.
The most common form of stretching is known as static stretching. It is taught to children in gym class and refers to the practice of stretching to your maximum capacity, holding for a brief period of time, and then releasing. Static stretches help improve circulation and prepares your muscles for an upcoming workout.
Dynamic stretching involves using weights, which can also include your body weight as a factor. This type of stretching method can be harmful as it is possible to tear muscles or tendons if proper care is not exercised. An example could be lunges, where you use your body’s weight to stretch the muscles in the leg.
Isometric/ PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) is just a ten dollar name for putting tension on your muscles and then relaxing. This type of stretching best prepares you for heavy exercise. This method frequently uses a partner to help create tension on the targeted muscle group. The most common example is lying on your back with one leg in the air. The partner will push your leg towards your body until it causes tension on your hamstring. You then try to push your leg back down as your partner provides resistance. When a partner is not available you can use exercise ropes/ cords that stretch and can provide resistance.
No matter how you exercise, flexibility training should become a natural part of your routine. It helps to protect the muscles and joints during physical fitness activities and can maximize your performance levels.