Top tips to best prepare for exercise and increase flexibility

My last few posts have examined the importance of flexbility (ROM) and mobility and hopefully you now share this view point. If you don’t yet, here is a reminder of why you may want to spend some time developing your ROM (Range of movement):

  • You will see even more progress – if your range of movement increases you can far more easily generate power without restriction in your movement.
  • Reduce you risk of injury – this will also help you to make more progress. Less time out injured = more time training.
  • Reduced DOMS (soreness) – as well as improving your flexibility, some stretching and mobility work can reduce the impact of DOMS.
  • Increased ability to perform more technical lifts/skills – without good range of movement it is unlikely you will be able to perform Olympic lifts or at least not to a weight your strength would allow. Increasing your range of movement can unlock the door to other skills as well. For example toes to bar and press to handstand.

 

 

So, what is the best way to prepare for exercise?

  1. An Aerobic warm up – this will increase body temperature, blood flow and prepare the joints and muscles.
  2. Dynamic stretching
    • Gradually increase the intensity.
    • Increase the range of movement until you are moving through full range.
    • Replicate movements you are going to perform in the exercise/sport.

 

As previously discussed on my instagram and within various posts:

  • Static stretching prior to sport can decrease power output.
  • As can PNF stretching.
  • You may include some form of myofascial release, such as foam rolling. It does NOT hinder performance BUT does not improve performance and has been found to temporarily improve range of movement.

 

What should we do after exercise to improve flexibility and promote recovery?

  1. Myofascial release
    • Found to reduce DOMS (soreness). Use a tennis ball, Lacrosse ball, foam roller, barbell, anything solid to roll out tight areas. General recommendations are to find tight/sore areas and hold in that area breathing mindfully until you feel the tension release. Or roll over an area of tightness slowly, 1 inch per second.
  2. Static stretch
    • To be performed completely separate from any sport/exercise as part of your training. Research suggests 10-30s holds are sufficient and if performed regularly will increase range of movement.
  3. PNF stretching
    • See yesterdays post. To be performed after sport/exercise and or like static stretching as a separate form of training to supplement your other activities. Found to improve flexibility and range of movement even more than static stretching.
  4. Ice bath
    • Another method that can decrease perceived soreness after a tough session. See my Instagram post about this.

 

However, I would also add, do what works for you. Research is great and fantastic to use as a guideline or starting point BUT we are all individuals and sometimes we see great gains and progress from things not necessarily supported by science. With that in mind, have you tried any of the above? When? How? What worked best for you? I would love to hear different peoples perspectives on preparing and recovering for exercise, and improving mobility.

 

 

 

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