What does being flexible mean? Well, the text book definition is: The ability to be easily modified. The quality of bending easily without breaking. All these definitions are good, but how flexible do we really need to be? As long as you’re flexible enough to comfortably perform ALL your daily activities, not someone else’s, without pain, you’re ahead of the game. Not everyone needs to be super bendy or be able to fold themselves into a pretzel. Flexibility means something different to all of us and could change over time. At this stage of our lives, I hope we’re not still trying to compete on a physique stage, but I can still help you that if it’s been a lifelong goal, I just wouldn’t recommend it. Let’s leave that lifestyle for the young people.

Flexibility is important…to an extent, but should you pay someone to stretch you out? This is called (PNF) stretching, which means: proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation. While it does have its benefits, does everyone need this type of stretching? I say NO, Besides, it costs just as much as your average personal training session and lately it has been sold as one of the new fitness fads. As you all may know, it almost lured me in last year. It does have its place though and I do believe in it, and it is one of my favorite and most beneficial of all the latest fitness trends, it’s just not that necessary for everyone. To me it’s more similar to massage and acupuncture. Besides, if you aren’t licensed through the LMBT, it’s illegal to do, in North Carolina. In my entire career, have you ever seen me stretching anyone? Nope. Static stretching, the type of stretching you should do after every work out is really all that most anyone needs. Unless you have some physical limitations caused by injuries, or from those crazy sporting activities you did when you were younger, or if you fell for one of those other fitness fads where they work you out like an endurance or Olympic athlete.

While stretching is important to improving flexibility, warming up may be more important. As long as I can remember, I explained the importance of warming up before stretching by using a rubber band as an example. I’d say, “Imagine if you put a rubber band in the freezer, then take it out and immediately start pulling on it. It would break. Your muscles act in a similar way.” This is also why stretching after your workout is way more important than before and should never be done without a proper warm-up. I prefer a really good warm-up before you start your workout, do some light stretches during and your main stretching afterwards. Everybody warms up. Even singers and other musicians warm up. As you know in another life, I was both.

Also, most people have never heard about the two contractions or stopping points involved with working out. The concentric and the eccentric. Or, if you have ever trained with me, you’ve heard me say, “The concentrating or flexing and the elongating or stretching parts of working out. Slow and controlled movements while lifting weights also has you stretching with each repetition. You get 60% of the benefit of strength training from the eccentric part of the workout and it helps you to achieve long, lean muscles, not short, choppy muscles. So when you see these guys picking up the heavy weights and then loudly dropping them, you now know that if they would just gradually place the weights back down and even pause in the eccentric part of the movement, they would get so much more out of their workout, get stronger and greatly increase their lean muscle tissue.

I hope this helps explain all you really need to know about stretching.

Stay healthy my friends…