First, we will look at what is Flexibility?
Flexibility, by definition is ‘the ability of a joint or series of joints to move through an unrestricted pain free range of motion’. What exactly does this mean? Flexibility training includes the stretching of the muscle which makes it easier to use its full range of motion. The 2 most common types of Flexibility stretching are Static stretching where you stretch a particular muscle without moving and Dynamic stretching which combines stretching with movements.
We will look at the benefits of flexibility before we focus on the most common muscle groups to stretch. Some of the benefits include 1. Less Injuries, 2. Improves balance and posture, 3. Builds up strength, 4. Less pain after exercising and 5. Improves performance. The most important and most common muscle body groups to stretch include the chest, back, arms, shoulders, abdominals and legs. All fitness instructors or personal trainers will show you the best and safest way to stretch each muscle group. A lot of people tend to spend little time stretching when doing their workouts.
What is the length of time stretching each muscle group? The recommended time can vary between each trainer. It varies between 15-60 seconds for each muscle group. The best time to stretch is when you have completed your warm up and the muscles are warm. Fitness trainers and personal trainers recommend that you do your stretching after your warm up and a longer stretch at the end of your workout. Little equipment is needed to optimise your flexibility. Most gyms have good exercise mats, foam rollers, stretch bands and an exercise ball. A good rule of thumb used by most professionals is to move slowly into each stretch until you feel the tension. Hold that position for up to 60 seconds to maximise the stretch and lengthen the muscle.
So remember, flexibility stretching is a very important aspect to your workout and should be focused on as much as your main workout.