Most people wish they were more flexible but don’t do anything about it, because most flexibility training feels like a weird form of torture.
But the actual “trick” to fast flexibility is to focus on the areas you personally need to work on, and then to train with the most efficient tools. This requires a bit of self-reflection and critical thinking, but you’ll make much faster and more valuable progress than just following someone else’s stretching routine.
Why Do You Want to Get Flexible?
It seems that as people begin and continue with their exercise and fitness regimens, they always feel as if they should work on their flexibility, even if they already have a dedicated practice in place.
Why is that? Is it because everybody says you should?
If so, that’s not a very good reason. Maybe you don’t have to spend so much time on your flexibility after all.
If you are getting through your day and your recreational activities without sensations of stiffness or tightness in your muscles, then you probably don’t need to make flexibility training your top priority.
If however, you do feel stiffness or tightness and can’t seem to put your shoes on in the morning without some serious effort, then some flexibility training may be exactly what you need.
Steps to Get Flexible Fast
First of all, let’s clarify why you want to stretch and work on your flexibility. There are a lot of reasons floating around out there as to why you should stretch.
- Decrease muscle soreness after a workout
- Decrease risk of injury
- Improve performance
- Improve range of motion
- Reduce pain
Once you have that goal in mind, you’ll next want to find out what in particular is hindering you from achieving it.
And it’s much more than “I have to stretch out more.”
Sure you do, but do you know which muscles you need to stretch? All of them? Well, that would take a pretty long time!
It may be that you have a difficult time bending forward to touch your toes, and that would naturally make you think that your hamstrings are too tight but there are quite a few other things that could be restrictors as well, such as your low back, hip flexors, glutes, etc.
So you’ll need a good way to quickly assess what is specifically binding up your movement.
The best way I’ve found to do that is to go through a targeted series of positions that tests your whole body, and to note where you feel most restricted.
By starting with the most noticeable restrictions, you’ll probably notice other parts of your body moving more freely as well. It’s like untangling a rope—once you find the primary knot, the rest unravels pretty easily.
So the stretching you do will make the best use of your time, since you’ll be working on the most important stretches for your needs.
The difficulty in trying to get flexible as quickly as possible is that most people need to tone it down.
You don’t improve stretching tolerance by going so far with a stretch that it hurts. In fact, that would likely impede your progress. It is both a reflexive and conscious action to draw back from a painful stimulus.
The inability to move in a certain range of motion because of “tightness” can be related to several factors:
- Soft tissue scarring (actual structural adhesions preventing motion)
- Joint hypomobility (restrictions at the joint itself due to injury or congenital factors)
- Higher resting muscle tone (the muscle’s resistance to stretch at rest)
The first two factors are best addressed by consulting a professional in person, but the last leads to the reason why most people need to go a bit more slowly in their stretching regimen.
Though there are some medical conditions that can cause a very high muscle tone, most of us just have varying degrees of the level, and this explains why some people are naturally more or less flexible than others.
It’s only natural to go for intensity when you are exercising and are focused on a goal.
This is great for pushing through fatigue to build stamina and endurance but for improving flexibility, fighting this natural tone is a losing battle.
Instead, you are better off coaxing your body into improved flexibility.
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