Seven tips to improve your flexibility

We here all the time about strength training and cardiovascular training in the fitness world.
But the third key component – stretching – is often overlooked.
Stretching is equally important, though, because it can limit injuries and help you perform better.
It can even help improves muscle appearance, lengthen them, and improve overall health.
Staying flexible becomes more and more important as we get older. Here are seven tips on how to improve your flexibility:
1. Take it serious – Take stretching as serious as the main core of your fitness program. Any stretching will help, provided you use proper form. However, a few quick stretches before working out won’t do much.
Think and learn more about stretching.
2. Personalize your stretching plan – Pay particular attention to your specific needs and what types of activities you do. One size, or stretching program, does not fit all. It will improve stability and mobility in all you do.
3. Focus on problem areas – Listen to your body and it will tell you certain areas need special stretching attention. Get a good all-around stretch, but also make sure to give extra time to tighter areas, or ones with an injury history.
4. Use proper form – First and foremost, don’t try to do an all-out stretching routine when you’re just starting a workout!
The body will be cold and results will be greatly reduced. Do some general, very light stretching for a few minutes, get in about 5-10 minutes of light walking, biking or jogging and then spend 5-10 minutes doing a complete stretch. Avoid bouncing or jerking, instead slowly stretch your muscles to the endpoint of movement and hold the stretch for about 10 to 30 seconds. Senior citizens, people with injuries or other special situations may need to take precautions.
5. Use Foam rollers – Foam rollers are a great way to deeply massage and stretch big muscle groups, such as the quads and hamstrings.
6. Be Consistent – People should try to stretch every day for a minimum of 10-15 minutes, or at least do that each time your work out.
7. Stretch your mindset – Finally, even if you’re a teen or 20-something who’s one of the top athletes around, know that stretching is still highly important for you. It’s not something to be taken seriously just by the old or unconditioned.
A consistent stretching program will be more important in the long run than how much you can bench press or squat.

At Home Fitness consultant Aaron Dorksen’s blog deals with a variety of fitness topics, ranging from workout tips, motivational ideas and feature stories on how exercise impacts people’s lives. E-mail him with comments, questions or ideas for future blogs at