How to Set Goals for Flexibility

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Increasing flexibility can improve your overall performance in many sports and fitness-related activities. Setting flexibility goals requires both commitment and caution. Increasing muscle flexibility is a gradual process, and it can be dangerous to focus on the speed of the results. Stretching exercises are most effective when they are performed regularly as part of a routine. Thus, flexibility goals should focus on your commitment to the stretching routine and its long-term results.

  • Decide if you have a specific muscle or area of the body where you would most like to increase flexibility. Alternatively, you might have more than one area you want to focus on, or you may simply wish to increase your overall flexibility.

  • Plan an exercise routine for yourself that involves a certain amount of stretching at least five days a week. Choose a routine that fits best with your schedule. For example, if you are tired after work, consider doing your stretches in the morning instead.

  • Make a chart or use a calendar that allows you to check off every day you have completed your stretching routine. Set goals for yourself based on the number of days you stretch a week, but do not make goals that focus on how far you are able to stretch. Your flexibility will gradually increase over time, and extension-based goals may encourage dangerous stretching practices that force the muscle to extend further than it is ready to go.

  • Perform exercises that stretch the specific areas where you wish to be more flexible. For example, if you wish to be more flexible in your groin muscles, perform groin stretches such as the butterfly stretch. Always warm up your muscles before you begin stretching by running in place, pacing up and down the stairs, or jumping rope for a few minutes. According to Bella Online, the Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Faciliation, or PNF, method of stretching is the most effective for increasing flexibility. Begin by slowly stretching your muscle until you reach the maximum resistance without feeling any pain. After holding the stretch for six seconds, contract the muscle for two seconds, release the contraction, and then extend the stretch slightly further.

  • Lean further into your stretches as your flexibility increases day after day. Always begin by stretching as far as you can but never to the point of pain. This initial position should extend further over time.

  • Reward yourself at the end of the week if every day has been checked off. For example, you can treat yourself to a special dessert that you don't normally indulge in. However, keep in mind that the best reward for frequent stretching is your gradually increasing flexibility.

Tips & Warnings

  • Stretching routines should only be performed by those physically fit enough to do so. If you think you may be at risk, consult your physician and ask for a sports physical.

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References

  • Photo Credit stretch it out image by Frenk_Danielle Kaufmann from Fotolia.com
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