Flexibility: Should we stretch?
I hear lots of people saying they lack flexibility and they need to stretch more. If you’re reading this thinking ‘that’s me’, let me first ask you, after your last stretch did you notice a long term change in mobility? Or did you find that after a good long stretch, you returned next time to be in a similar state and no great improvement in flexibility?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for mobility/‘flexibility’ but I think there is a far easier, more efficient way to create the flexibility you seek. Your body is smart, if you’re not flexible there is a reason for it, your body is protecting you. It recognises that if you move into that end range, you’ll be exposing yourself to injury. So instead it tightens up as you approach the range of movement where stability is lacking.
If you want to increase mobility, first increase stability. Teach your body to use the stabilising muscles correctly and at end range you’ll see a dramatic increase in flexibility. The more proficient you get at stabilising at end range the greater your flexibility will grow.
eg. if you want to get better at forward fold at the hips; work on glute stability and hip compression strength.
So my second recommendation off the back of this if you want to increase flexibility is loaded stretching. It encompasses an element of stability so it’s a very effective tool for end range. Ease into it and you’ll quickly see an improvement!