Choosing the best flexibility workouts for your needs depends on a variety of factors. One of the key factors in deciding on a workout is determining the reason that you need to increase your flexibility, because knowing this will help you to answer some of the other key questions that arise when choosing an appropriate flexibility workout routine. Another key factor is determining which areas of the body you wish to target with your flexibility workouts. Also, as with all workouts, it is important to be aware of your ability level and overall fitness level.
Having a clear set of goals is an important first step in selecting flexibility workouts. If you are an athlete who wants greater flexibility in order to improve performance in a particular sport, then it will be important to select flexibility workouts that target the areas of the body from which your individual sport requires flexibility. Similarly, if you are selecting flexibility workouts as part of a regimen for injury recovery, then you will want to target the injured area while also being careful not to overstretch, because this could result in further injury. If you are stretching simply as part of your overall fitness, then you probably will want to select a workout that provides adequate coverage of the whole body, such as yoga or pilates workouts.
If you do want to target specific areas of the body, then it is crucial to select flexibility exercises that will accomplish this goal. Pilates workouts and many yoga disciplines tend to take a holistic approach to the body's flexibility and thus might not be the best choice. Instead, it will be better to find joint-specific exercises that will target the desired area. Even if you follow this approach, though, it is important not to neglect other parts of the body completely, because flexibility in one area often depends upon flexibility elsewhere in the body.
As with all exercise routines, it is crucial that you are aware of your ability level and your overall fitness, because overstretching can be very harmful to your body. Most established regimens, such as yoga and Pilates, offer alternatives to certain stretches that might be difficult for a beginner. More advanced flexibility workouts, such as those that utilize isometric stretches, are appropriate only if you have a high level of fitness and are experienced enough to engage in advanced flexibility workouts.