One of the most common questions I get! How often and for how long should we be stretching?
~What are your goals with flexibility?~
I think that is the first question you have to ask yourself when deciding how often you want to stretch. Is there a certain flexibility skill you are wanting to achieve? Is there a flexibility skill in your other disciplines you would like to achieve? Wanting less pain in certain movements? The list of questions can go on, so really zoning in on what you are hoping to achieve with your stretching is essential.
~Maintenance stretching vs deep stretching~
Once you figure out your flexibility goals, we come to the topic of maintenance stretching vs deep stretching. What is the difference you may ask...I will explain:
Maintenance stretching is stretching you do often and to help maintain current flexibility. This might be 5 stretches you do everyday, it could be a 10 minute flexibility video you follow regularly, or it could be stretches a physical therapist/flexibility coach gave you to practice. Whatever the case may be, these are stretches you do often and are low intensity. These stretches help upkeep the body's current flexibility status.
Deep stretching is stretching that has a goal of increasing flexibility and strength...this type of stretching is a workout. This is more than a 10 minute stretch...this type of stretching can take 30 minutes to an hour and a half. You are breaking a sweat, pushing yourself (safely), and focusing on increasing the range of motion. Some examples of this type of stretching could be taking a flexibility/contortion class, following along to multiple stretching videos, working on a certain flexibility skill and drills associated with it (y scale, chin stands, front splits, etc.), taking a flexibility private, etc.
Both maintenance stretching and deep stretching are beneficial...it is important to understand the difference, that way you can identify what type of stretching you are doing.
Maintenance stretch Deep stretch
~Perf, I know the difference, now what?~
Now that you know the difference, you can start figuring out how often to do these two types of stretches. Personally, I do maintenance stretching every day...I have about five stretches that I do every day, no matter where I am, or what I am doing. These are stretches that work really well for my body and make me feel good. Two of them were given to me by my chiropractor, and the other three are ones that feel absolutely wonderful for my body. These maintenance stretches that I do help to ensure that my current flexibility stays preserved and I do not tighten up. I truly recommend trying to do maintenance stretching every day, even just for a couple minutes...the payoff will be huge!
Deep stretching I do about two to three times a week. It takes anywhere from one to two hours and it requires focus. I have to be in the zone, not talking to anyone, and have a layout of the exact stretches I want to do. I roll out before and after deep stretching, and I make sure I am listening to my body. I think practicing deep stretching every other day is best for the body, as it gives it time to recover in between sessions.
~Too much, too fast~
I am def guilty of this: I learn a new stretch, or I am super close to a flexibility goal I have, and I push myself. I think it is good to push oneself, however sometimes it can cause us to strain a muscle, injure something, etc. So as much fun as it is too push the flexibility, make sure it is being supplemented with lots of strength training, rest, and body care (foam rolling, massage, acupuncture, cupping, etc.). Listen to your body and be kind to it!
Plz summarize Rochelle
Yes, no problem! So to summarize...
Try to do 5-10 minutes of maintenance stretching everyday (or 5-6 times a week)
Try to do 1-2 hours of deep stretching 1-3 times a week
Make sure all of your deep stretching is accompanied with strength training
Listen to your body...if it is telling you to go slower or take a break, do that! It will be much more beneficial in the long run
Body maintenance can totally boost your athletic performance! Personally, I go to the chiropractor every other week, get massages and acupuncture/cupping every month or two, and roll out everyday. Try different body work out: you might be shocked at how much it helps!
~"But Rochelle, I have no idea where to start with this!"~
All good, all good! I have recently uploaded a 10 minute stretching routine onto my Vimeo site: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/functionalflexibility. This is a great flexibility maintenance routine that you can do every day! I also have so many different videos uploaded that can be used as your deep stretches. Choose three videos and follow along to them twice a week! The payoff will be huge! Flexibility does not just magically happen. It requires work, attention, and correct form. Yas, you got this!
I hope this information on when/how often to stretch is useful to you! Let me know if you have any questions! Remember to check out my subscription page on Vimeo for more flexibility videos!