How Long To Stretch
Paul, My instructor stretches us every day before class. But you said to stretch every other day. Which is right?
I get this question a lot. How often should you stretch? The answer is found in the follow up question:
What do you stretch for?
Stretching like strengthening can be used for many goals. The schedule changes depending on what the target exercise are applied for. For an easier understanding let’s take a basic squat or a lunge. You can see 3 different people doing that exercise for different reason and of course with different, resistance, frequency and intensity.
- One person does the squat or lunge as a weight loss program.
- Another as a bulking technique. (Bodybuilder)
- Third to improve squat itself. (Powerlifter)
- Fourth as an athletic conditioning for legs. (Track athlete)
They will do the exercise differently. And this can apply to any strength exercise, squat or lunge just being an example.
The same thing applies to stretching.
There many reasons to stretch. We will talk about only two, since they are the focus of the question.
“How come in class we stretch every day, and you recommend to do it every other day?”
Dance, cheer, martial arts, gymnastics, etc classes focus on flexibility depending skills. So stretching is a part of a warm up. You need to do that every time to have the flexibility needed for your skills.
If you need to do a split jump and you did not warm up into a split, you have a poor skill performance or an injury. Therefore your instructor does this every day before the workout.
As long as you don’t try to increase your range of motion every day, you are ok. It is fine to stretch to get to your predictable “post warm up” range.
When It Is Ok To Stretch Every Day
This simply means that if your straddle is 130 degrees cold and 180 warm, you need to warm up. The key is this: you can do a 180 straddle, you just need a warm. So stretching to get from 130-180 every day is ok.
When It Is Not
On the other hand. If you are 100 cold and 140 warm, you can stretch every day, but only to 140. You should not try to go past 140 every day.
When you try to increase your maximum range, you do micro damage to your tissues. It takes 48-72 hours to recover. An unconditioned beginner may take even longer, especially at the start of the program.
So if you are working on getting more range of motion, and you are not just warming up, you can’t do it every 24 hours. It will lead to you getting hurt.
With proper supplementation, massage, external applications, length of time before injury can be extended. This simply means that if a regular person will get injured after several days of 24 hour interval stretching, someone who “does everything right” will take few days longer to get injured.
You can stretch as a part of your warm up every day. However you should, stretch for deeper flexibility every other day or even less frequently.
How To Determine Your Flexibility Level
This is how you can determine your flexibility level so that you can start the right program:
- If you are at less than 135º, or you haven't trained for long, or you'd like to set good flexibility and conditioning foundations, CLICK HERE TO GET THE BEGINNER LEVEL.
- If you are at more than 135º but you haven't reached 180º yet, CLICK HERE TO GET THE INTERMEDIATE LEVEL.
- If you've reached 180º and you'd like to learn oversplits and how to improve your strength for splits to be able to even do it standing or in a jump, CLICK HERE TO GET THE AVANCED LEVEL.
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