I’ve been a bit more diligant these past few months with my stretching and flexability work, and I guess it’s hard to quantify how much stretching has helped me.
Anyway, there’s two things I wanted to bring up. First, when I do “cold” stretches (like at night before I go to bed, or when I am watching TV) I go from being relatively a bit sore or tight post workout, and during the actual stretch it feels like I get a full range of motion, and then some. But after I release the stretch, sure I am more flexible than before I stretched, but I have to hold the stretch for another 30 seconds before I get back to that same point.
The second thing I’ve noticed, is that static stretching (usually the only kind I do) hasn’t increased my range of motion at all. I still can’t touch my toes, even though I’ve been stretching pretty consistently for about an hour total (split up into 30 min segments throughout the day) is this normal? Or am I just being as my coach puts it “different… every athlete’s different”.
When exactly are you doing most of your stretching? Personally I think cold stretching is never a good idea, especially if you’re sore or tight from a workout. I think static stretching has its place only briefly in a warmup if something is really tight, and will be most effective as the last part of your cooldown. If your muscles are already warm and loose from taking a run then you will get the most out of the stretch. If you’re stretching when you’re already cold, your muscles aren’t going to get the same elongation and you wouldn’t really get any progress.
I also include dynamic stretches in my warmup which pretty much eliminates the need for statics until PWO. Maintainng correct alignment during stretches is important too…
Try to use active-passive combinations. Actively contract your leg to increase ROM (for anywhere from 5-10 seconds) followed by a passive hold (for about 10 seconds); repeat the process. Active flexibility transfers to improve ROM more than passive flexibility.
There are many techniques when using PNF stretching. It is, in a dumbed down definition, using dynamic and stabalizing actions to stretch and activate the muscles. They can, however be somewhat dangerous without knowledgable experience.
You can implement PNF into any point of your workout, dependant upon which techniques you are using (you would not want to do rythmic stabalization before speed work, but a contract-relax technique would be a great flexibility increaser before sprints).