There are lots of different stretches you can do, so choosing the right ones will be important. The deciding factors will be what activities you do, and what your goals are.
How much time you spend on your stretches will have a big effect on what you achieve - many people spend just a few minutes before or after a workout working their flexibility, yet like all aspects of exercising, consistency will be rewarded.
The other issue is also when you do your stretches - although many trainers are still recommending flexibility work as part of a warm-up, the research has shown that the best time to work on your flexibility is after a workout, when your muscles are warm.
Recommendations for the exercises you should do to improve your flexibility cover most of the major muscle groups of the body. Read on to find out more :
- Shoulders and neck :
These areas are important for almost everyone - our lifestyle (driving, sitting at a computer) puts lots of stress on the upper body, and regular stretching can help to relieve this
- Low back :
Part of the core, many low back injuries could be avoided by regularly stretching this area
- Upper legs :
The hamstrings are another area that respond well to regular stretching
- Lower legs :
If you regularly engage in any exercise that puts strain on the lower legs (running, skipping, aerobics classes, etc), then regular stretching of this area is essential.
The benefits of regular flexibility work are well-proven - improved performance and fewer injuries, so finding the time to include this at the end of your workouts is essential for anyone who works out frequently.