Following these tips will help you reach your flexibility goals, but remember that the most important thing of all is consistency. Just like anything else, gaining flexibility requires commitment and determination.
1. Always warm up first
I put this at the top of the list because it is probably the most important tip I can give, and the most frequently overlooked. In my experience many people think that stretching IS warming up and use it before they work out. You will actually be less likely to injure yourself if you warm up prior to stretching. If your goal is to get moving before exercises, mild stretching is good, but if your goal is to become more flexible, your approach should change. A light cardio will be enough to prepare your muscles to stretch properly.
2. Stretch individual muscles before doing compound stretches
This is very important too and I always found this to be really helpful if you’re not a frequent stretcher… For example, before I want to touch my toes, I would first stretch my glutes than my calves and lastly my hamstrings. It allows for the whole posterior chain to release individually. Otherwise, there is a risk that the lower back will be strained.
3. Focus on problem areas
This may seem incredibly obvious, but a lot of people have a tendency to overstretch muscles that are already flexible and ignore muscles that are tight. The reason is simple: it is way more comfortable and fun to do stretches that are already easy. However, if you’re trying to gain flexibility it’s really important to spend more time on the stretches that don’t come as easily. Try to identify stretches that are difficult for you and focus on those to keep your body balanced, which will prevent you from future injuries.
4. Stretch before bed
As well as my daytime stretching session, I found that doing an additional short evening routine before going to sleep allowed me to gain flexibility more quickly. It also helps me to relax. Keep in mind, though, that since you likely won’t be as warmed up late at night, it’s essential that you avoid doing any deep stretches! Instead, focus on slow, gentle stretches.
Good luck and happy stretching!