Champaign, IL—Many athletes and fitness buffs include stretching in their workouts, but few effectively stretch to improve performance and reduce injuries. “People know how important stretching is, but most don't do it as much as they should,” says fitness expert Jay Blahnik. “And they often rely on a few old-fashioned stretches learned as kids from teachers or coaches.”
In the new edition of Full-Body Flexibility (Human Kinetics, 2010), Blahnik explains his updated three-step stretch system. “The system is a way of thinking about how to select stretches, how long to organize multiple stretches into routines, and how to make sure you aren't stretching too far or not enough,” Blahnik says.
- Step 1: Maximize range of motion in each stretch. “Although some people may never reach an ideal range of motion for a particular stretch, it's important to measure progress and work toward an ideal range of motion for as many stretches as possible,” Blahnik says. He also advises mixing up passive and active stretches and evaluating and ranking each stretch and muscle group.
- Step 2: Minimize the difference between passive and active flexibility around each joint and within each muscle group. This step ensures strength and stability around a joint to support the flexibility desired. “It also provides a safety net for step 1 by ensuring that even though the attempt is to maximize range of motion with each stretch and around each joint, people won't push themselves so far that they become excessively flexible or imbalanced,” Blahnik says.
- Step 3: Equalize the range of motion on the left and right sides of the body as well as the front and back sides of the body. “An effort to equalize the range of motion in all areas of the body will help improve everyday movement patterns, reduce risk of movement-based injury, minimize the chances of back pain, and improve athletic ability,” Blahnik explains.
Full-Body Flexibility, Second Edition, offers step-by-step instruction and over 640 detailed full-color photo sequences for enhancing the body's natural movement, reducing muscular tension, strengthening joints, improving posture, and taking athletic performance to new heights. For more information, see Full-Body Flexibility, Second Edition.