Are you wondering why your flexibility doest't seem to develop at all even if you are very committed to your stretching regimen? Here are a few common mistakes that may delay your improvements or even harm you.
1. Bounce when you stretch
The most common mistake I see among peers or the most unexperienced athlete is to bounce when stretching. The most grotesque picture of this is when you see someone throwing his or her own limbs in different direction as a pre-workout. The best way to shock your body and micro tear muscle fibers. Apart from the fact you risk injuring yourself, YOU ARE NOT preparing your body for any physical activity this way, If you are looking for a proper warm-up, this is the wrong strategy! Stop now!
It would be safer for you to just raise your heart beat with a cardiovascular light activity for 10 to 15 minutes.
In any case, once you reach your maximum extension, your body is in an extreme state and bouncing will NOT help, your muscles will react by contracting as a result to the threat, you want to find the way to fatigue the muscles into letting go (which I explain and make you experience during my workshops).
2. Be too passive
If you still can talk, laugh, read or be distracted during a real stretching session, it means you are not doing it right: SIMPLE!
I don't consider casual light stretching as a way to become more flexible but simply a way to relax or heal your body (ex: stretching while watching TV or working at the computer or myofascial release)
If your goal is to really stretch and improve your flexibility skills, than, as anything else; be committed, concentrate your whole attention and energy on what you are doing with the right intensity, duration and technique.
3. You do not stretch a specific muscle long enough
Regardless of the body part you are stretching, you should never stay in the position less than 30 seconds. This being the very minimum for a special area to start letting go.
Starting slowly and eventually stretching to full range and beyond is the key. Again, pulling a muscle for a few seconds won't make you any good apart from risking a injury.
4. Confuse discomfort with pain or vice versa
We all have different pain tolerance so you personally have to get to know yourself enough to be a judge of happy pain versus injury pain and fix your own limits. When stretching, you should be in a great discomfort, what I call a happy pain. Not to be mistaken with an injury pain. I can help you push your own limits staying in a secure space for your body and avoiding injuries. Don't be this over motivated person who's proud enough to keep pulling on a screaming hamstring. To be clear; that is not courage, it's nonsense.
5. Deep stretch on a cold body
That one is a no brainer, of course! But then why do I see so many people arriving late at a dance, karate, gymnastic or whatever class and instead of WARMING UP, they stretch. Does that remind you of someone?
Go run in circle for 5 minutes before you ever stretch any muscle!
These 5 common mistakes are covering very basic information for everyone but it seems like even the elite athletes sometimes need a reminder.
Improvements are not only for the best, whether your immediate goal is to touch the floor bending forward or to perform a standing 180 degrees split or even a 270 degrees passive over-split, the basics are practically the same.