But that truth is, most of us have serious flexibility issues. And those issues can affect you in both your workout performance and daily life in all sorts of ways – muscle tightness, general discomfort, pain (as a warning sign) and, finally, a momentum-stopping injury.
If you change the way you exercise by incorporating one or all of these 6 flexibility ideas into your workout, you’re well on your way to better workouts and better performance and a better physique.
WAY #1: USE A FOAM ROLLER OR LACROSSE BALL MASSAGE
Start your workout with some tough love. Let me just say, up front, that when you first star foam rolling, it’s not fun. You’re going to be rolling over your fascia, which gives your muscles shape and supports your organs and joints. It should be pliable and elastic, but it’s usually tight and constricted due to trauma. We want to get it back to the way it was. Don’t spend a tremendous amount of time here – 5 to 10 minutes before a workout and at home should do the trick.
WAY #2: TRY DYNAMIC WARM-UPS OR MOBILITY DRILLS
Now that we’ve rolled out, it’s time to fire up your neuromuscular system, increase your internal body temperature and lengthen your fascia to prevent injury. The days of bending over and touching your toes prior to a workout are gone. There’s too much info that shows that static stretching actually decreases the amount of power and force you’re able to exert during your workout. We want to prep the muscle and reduce the risk of injury with movements like jumping jacks, reverse lunges with rotation, inchworms and high knee skipping.
WAY #3: USE A FULL RANGE OF MOTION ON EACH EXERCISE
Although using a partial range of motion is a great technique for breaking through plateaus in your workout, it shouldn’t make up the majority of your workout. Make sure you include movements that employ a full range of motion for muscle and joint flexibility and to maintain joint-capsule spacing. Limit your range of motion consistently and that’s the range your body will adapt to.
WAY #4: DON’T FORGET STATIC STRETCHES
Dying to do some static stretches (passive or PNF)? Throw them in at the end of the workout. If you trained hard and allowed some of your muscles to tighten up during your session, now is a great time to gently ease them back into their optimal range of motion. One caveat here – don’t try to push a muscle past a safe range of motion. Sore does not mean tight! Be very cautious with the degree of stretch. Only go until you feel a moderate stretch in the target muscles. You shouldn’t feel the stretch in your joints or feel any kind of pain. If you do, you’re going too far.
WAY #5: STAY HYDRATED
Our muscles are approximately 80% water. With that composition, a change of as little as 1% in dehydration can impair not only flexibility, but also general performance and recovery. Not sure how much water to drink? Start with the standard six 8-ounce glasses a day and weigh yourself prior to and after your workout. Drink an additional 24 ounces for every pound lost during exercise.
WAY #6: GET A MASSAGE
My favorite! This is a great way to flush out toxins and waste from your body, which if left alone can develop into knots and adhesions that restrict movement in your muscles and tissues. Besides, it just gives you a general sense of well-being and feels great!