17 Jul How Much Do You Need To Stretch?
How much do you need to stretch to perform like an athlete?
That’s a widely debated topic in the fitness community that has many different answers.
Typically, there are a few different trains of thought:
- Yoga Only
- Stretching Only
- Dynamic Warm-Up Only Pre-Workout
- Foam Rolling and Dynamic Warm-Up Pre-Workout
- Foam Rolling, Dynamic Warm-Up Pre-Workout Plus Stretching Sessions
The goal of person who wants to be fit should be to have good posture, full range of motion and stable joints that prevent injuries. In doing so, we’ll be able to kick ass at any fitness goal that you have.
Also, there is a law in fitness that if you don’t use it you lose it. So it’s essential to recognize that if you’re not performing full range of motion exercises that you will never achieve or maintain good posture and flexibility.
Below are the pros and cons to each of the solutions above:
- Can lead to a vast improvement in overall flexibility that generally leads to good performance in the gym and everyday life.
- Very beneficial for reducing stress and improving mindfulness.
- Yoga (and other similar practices) that utilize holds help improve stability and flexibility, the key to long term mobility improvement.
- Inefficient and usually less effective than a specific stretching routine comparing 8 minute a day of stretching vs a 60 minute yoga session once a week.
- Focuses on general flexibility, which can lead to instability in some joints (hips and back for example) and tightness in other common areas (hip flexors, TFL, pecs).
- Quick – Only 6-10 min a day, 3-7 days a week
- Can be targeted to make long term improvement to your specific postural or flexibility weaknesses. This leads to injury prevention while improving strength and movement.
- Ineffective pre or post workout. To be effective, it must be performed outside of workouts, which can be challenging for consistency.
- General stretching has marginal benefits. Having a specific routine is much more beneficial.
- Ideal to improve your flexibility temporarily for the workout, Combined with a well written training program, it could lead to improvements in your posture and flexibility over time.
- Excellent for “reclaiming” your current max range of motion pre-workout.
- Can lead to improved activation of stability muscles and increasing heart rate pre-workout, priming you for action.
- Doesn’t directly improve your flexibility long term.
- Great for improving tissue quality and benefit of dynamic stretches, if performed first for about 30 seconds per area. Also beneficial before static stretches if performed first.
- Can be essential to overcoming nagging pain or tightness in certain areas. Roll during a mobility session for 2+ minutes at least an hour before or after your workout (ideally more) for this benefit.
- Many people don’t have rollers, or progress past basic rollers quickly. Consider the grid or a similar roller if you’re advanced.
- Deep rolling should be done away from training times, leading to compliance and consistency issues
- By itself, it generally doesn’t lead to long term flexibility improvements.
So…back to the initial question:
How Much Do You Need To Stretch?
Pre-Workout (3-5 days a week): Roll your 2-3 top priorities for 30 seconds each and perform a quick dynamic warmup.
Stretch (3-5 Days a week): Stretch your 2-3 top areas for 2 minute (1 minute is still beneficial). 3-5 days a week is ideal to counteract our everyday activity, or lack there of. There should be at least 1:1 ratio of mobility sessions to workouts for improving flexibility, achieving optimal performance and injury prevention.
Yoga: Add as needed, or instead of stretching if preferred.
Here’s a video of a 6 minute daily stretching routine that you can start today:
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