How Do I Choose the Best Flexibility Training Exercises?

Dan Cavallari

Flexibility training exercises may not help you build muscle quickly, but they can improve muscle function and prevent injury, which means you will be able to build muscle and overall strength without setbacks from injury or pain. Choosing the best flexibility training exercises can be daunting if you are new to the workout routine, so one of the best ways to get into the habit is to consult with a professional trainer at a gym or fitness center. This professional will not only be able to show you how to perform certain exercises, but also identify trouble spots in your fitness and exercise routines.

A flexible woman doing yoga.
A flexible woman doing yoga.

If you do not belong to a gym or fitness center or cannot consult a trainer who can help you with flexibility training exercises, you will need to do a bit of self-evaluation to figure out which exercises will be best for you. Consider the type of workout you do on a regular basis and make sure the flexibility training exercises correspond to the weight training or other exercises you will be doing. If, for example, you are doing an upper body workout, you will need to combine both static and dynamic stretches to your upper body routine. The same goes for a leg workout.

Toe touches help people increase flexibility and warm up before a workout.
Toe touches help people increase flexibility and warm up before a workout.

While it is recommended that you stretch before exercising, it is also important to stretch during and after exercises; the muscles are looser and more prepared to handle the stretching motion, and over-stretching before a workout can actually lead to injury. There are two general ways to do this: static stretching, which occurs when you stretch and hold a static position; and dynamic stretching, which requires you to move in order to stretch the muscles. An example of a static stretch is the common toe touch. A dynamic stretch might be a joint rotation, in which a particular limb is rotated slowly to stretch the muscles of that joint and limb.

The type of stretches you do in the flexibility training exercises will depend on your fitness goals. Dynamic stretches are useful before athletic activities, and some static exercises are useful for improving one's range of motion. If you are trying to overcome an injury, a combination of both types of stretches will most likely be used. It is best to consult a professional trainer or physical therapist if you are overcoming an injury, however, as you can risk further damage to the muscles or other tissues within the body if you perform flexibility training exercises incorrectly.

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