What is the best way to get really flexible?
Is it to hold stretches for a shorter time and repeat often? Or to hold for longer time? Or a combination of both? Any tips are appreciated!!
I would say time and patience are the best way. Once you begin your stretching regimen, give it about a month or so of daily stretching (maybe 30 minutes per day) before you start to feel real improvements. I usually recommend holding each move for approx. 20 - 30 seconds. As you progress, hold a bit longer and push a bit farther. Don't go further than you should - over time you will improve. Good luck!
I think that a great time with your significant other is a great way to achieve flexibility. Any stiffness or aches and pains will magically disappear, not to mention increase your feeling of satisfaction and all-around "happy" hormones to flow. Enjoy. I know your partner will definitely enjoy.
I just need to add one thing. Do NOT stretch cold muscles. If you exercise regularly, walk, jog, bike, you will achieve flexibility. Don't focus on just stretching alone. Stretching should form part of your regular workout - after your warm up and at the end of your workout. If on some days you just want to stretch, do a little warm up first then stretch to a comfortable limit, pushing a little longer each time.
There are a few schools of thought regarding stretching. The safest way would be when your muscles are warm. Static stretches where you hold a stretch a little past comfort for 30 seconds to a minute would help you slowly gain flexibility. The key is consistency and patience.
Dynamic stretches are better as part of a warm up prior to a workout, say running or sports activity. Please remember that stretching prior to a strength/resistance workout will reduce your muscular strength for about thirty minutes, so leave stretches off of your resistance workout warmup.
There are people who advocate cold stretching or even "bouncing" stretches. Leave that for more intermediate/expert stretchers. They can cause injury if you do not know what you are doing.
Personally, I stretch after workouts or when I feel particularly tight. I used to stretch daily, sometimes, twice daily.
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