First of all, you have to know and understand the two main kinds of stretching you do in training or exercise.
The first kind of stretch is called the static stretch.
The static stretch is known as the safe stretch because you do it while in a comfortable position and hold stretch for about 30 seconds. Some examples of a static stretch are head bends, trunk rotation, leg and arm stretches, quad and hamstring stretch. Static stretch is usually done right after your warm-up and before your warm down period of your fitness routine.
Dynamic stretch is the other kind of stretch and requires movement and holding a stretched position for only a maximum time of 3 seconds. You should only do dynamic stretching after your muscles are warmed up or you risk injuring yourself.
Clearly, you have to do static stretching first before attempting dynamic stretching. It’s like a 2-step process and although there are other kinds of stretches, you can stick to these two to improve flexibility.
The standard rules on stretching effectively include:
· Never bounce during a stretch. This will make you vulnerable to muscle tears and other injuries
· Stretching properly is like courting or foreplay. You need to start slow and gradually build up the intensity. You cannot hurl yourself into a full stretch because you will pull a muscle.
· It would be wrong to focus on stretching just one part of your body. Flexibility demands that you work on all parts of your body from head to toes.
· Never rush your stretching routine. You tend to be more tense when you rush through your stretching exercises and this is ineffective since tense muscles do not stretch effectively.
· Learn to match your breathing rhythm with your stretching because focused breathing helps release the tension in your body
Effective stretching is not a race. You cannot fast track flexibility. It takes months to condition and tone your muscles. For instance, you can’t expect to do a half split on your first week of stretching. If you force the position, you will get injured. A little quick pain though is good. It’s a sign that you are stretching your muscles. Once you feel that stretch, don’t push any further. Flexibility is achieved one centimetre at a time.
If your muscles are sore after workout, I would recommend using a foam roller to relief the pressure. Example: