How to start stretching

What’s going on guys?! Feeling stiff and not that much flexible/mobile?! Well, guess what?! It’s a very common issue nowadays, due to the fact that not many people are willing to change their lifestyles in order to compensate this lack.
Most of the people do not have the will to change their daily habits, because this is what is about, in order to consider including a new routine to the ones they already have, all looking so boring and always the same with very less benefits than expected.

Well, my personal advice here is…fight against that lazy side which tells you not to do any further effort so to change what has now become more of a pain rather than a pleasure.
I’m talking about the serious chance to give a shake to your body, to feel it alive, young no matter the age and most of all definitely more flexible and mobile than ever.

Ok, if you have always been sedentary, if you have never practiced any sport in your childhood and adolescence, well these might be the very first “obstacles” to overcome.
I’m not saying it will be easy because in such cases you must consider, first thing first, to drop down a little bit of weight or anyway get all your joints in motion progressively and get a habit to the efforts of a regular training on a weekly basis.

After your body will have gotten more reactive, less sore day-by-day, workout after workout, thanks to the motion you are providing it with, we could consider this phase as the proper moment to include, next to your workouts, a routine which focuses on mobility and flexibility, hence stretching.

Starting to perform a stretching routine after your workouts that includes different types of stretching techniques (static and/or dynamic) and exercises, is a great value added to your lifestyle and workouts’ quality.
Performing instead a full-body stretching routine or a mobility one in a separate session, allows you to focus on improving your mobility and flexibility in 100%.
The two ways proposed above, are two great ones to change in positive your daily habits you are either a sedentary or an active person already.

Stated that, keep also in mind the importance of performing a proper warm-up before every workout; stretches before a workout are to be avoided if not in the measure where you can include only static active stretching exercises.
The body still needs to get ready for the effort before a workout, hence you cannot stress it by doing a session of static passive or isometric stretching.
Instead, if you just had a full-body workout, as I said above, a session of stretching to de-load tendons and ligaments from the tensions is the best.

Morning stretches as well are not to be forgotten, since it is much proven nowadays the effectiveness of improving mind, body and delaying the aging, thanks to the benefits of stretching if performed in a short session every single morning, for instance.
Be aware that it must not be an obligation, but more of a little effort you do to improve your body condition, so you must have will to do so.

About a possible progression schedule you could follow, well, keep in mind that me too at my own expenses, in terms of mistakes, I started by doing a very little during the week thinking that could be enough not to feel sore or any kind of pain after my workouts.
Unfortunately, later on, after I came across the serious injury with slipped disk in my lower back and precisely located in L5-S1 (very common back issue) I definitely started to increase the sessions of stretching and dedicating more time to them.
The only true advice I can give you in these terms is that:

  • If in past you had never trained and never practiced any kind of sport, hence you can be considered a non-practitioner, a newbie, you really ought to be aware that a lot of patience is required for sure to start seeing some results and a lot of time has to be dedicated to it (also multiple short sessions during the day)
  • If you are an athlete already, who has a certain habit to practicing sports with constancy during the week, but you have always been including a very little of stretching and mobility sessions in between the workouts, well, start today to include both of them more.
    This will allow you to diminish the chances of injuries along your journey and increasing the ones of improving posture and overall flexibility

Now, if you want to understand how to start building a stretching session on your own, for sure you cannot think to separate it according to every single body part.
At least, in my humble opinion, a proper stretching routine should include upper back as well as lower back exercises, hence a full-body one, so to provide a sort of flow to the de-load from head to toes.

I firmly believe that, if instead you stretch only one specific body part whilst the others are left sore or anyway loaded from the tensions post-workout, it is like not completing a task that you should always aim to accomplish in its integrity and not only in half.

If your goals are for instance:

  • To stretch your back by performing a sequence of lower back stretches, be aware that the target is indeed your back, but you will indirectly intervene also on your glutes and hamstrings, so it is recommended to include different exercises targeting all these “areas”
  • The same is with your neck, trapezius, shoulders and arms; these body parts are all connected and the tensions that might be generated by one of them, can indirectly influence also the others, hence you will have to consider a range of exercises that are targeting all of them with different stretches, at once
  • Hips stretches as well are necessary because another very common issue, especially with aging, is just right hips mobility that decreases with time.
    If you maintain instead a constant level of mobility, they will be likely to improve instead of diminishing their ROM.

Last but not least, remember that including all possible types of stretches in a routine, can be counterproductive in some cases.
The concept is that, if the sport you practice requires you to have a very high level of flexibility and mobility (i.e. breakdance, Calisthenics, gymnastics etc.), you will have to work also on those range of motion less common like for instance the splits (front and side).
Split stretches are indeed a clear example of specification that you might want to include in your stretching routines, if you have been or you intend to start practicing one of the sports above.
On the contrary, if you are a cyclist, you won’t surely need to include split stretches in your routines, but more of arm, hip, lower back, leg stretches so to de-load properly all the muscles involved while cycling.
Same if you are a swimmer, for sure arms have to be very flexible and mobile as well as shoulders and partly also the neck according to which style you adopt.

So, keep in mind all these elements explained above and start today to change your habits and improve yourself.
As I said, DO NOT consider the chance to include a mobility/stretching routine in your daily habits as a “weight”, because if that is the spirit…well, avoid even to start.
I’m straight with this concept because in these years I came across a lot of people (youngsters and adults) claiming to have the will to start improving themselves by practicing more stretching in general, but then the true result of all those words which have been?! None.

People do not realize that, it is not sufficient to just express your idea in words just to show that you seem to be strong-minded with it, you also have to make it happen…that’s where the real difference lays!
So, if you really think about starting to practice stretching and mobility with a clear goal, that’s perfectly fine, but avoid to waste time In case your approach is the opposite that is…seeing it as an obligation or anyway figuring it out in your mind, but not making it happen then.

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