Ok let’s finish this series up. Again, I want to reiterate that there may be newer information about stretching that will contradict what I am about to share. My suggestion is to try this out for awhile an always err on the side of caution, don’t push without mindful attention. There is potential for injury in any form of stretching. So we have discussed dynamic stretching and passive stretching I would now like to wrap this up with isometric type stretching and see if you gain more flexibility by doing it. There are 3 methods one can look at and try then evaluate. The first method is to stretch the muscles but not maximally. So, take it to the edge and back off. Wait for a few seconds or more and then increase the stretch. Wait for a period of time and increase the stretch again. What that entails is waiting for the mechanism to adjust and applying a bit more pressure to the stretch carefully. When you have reached a point where you have achieved what you believe to be the maximum stretch, apply short strong tensions, followed by quick relaxations and within a second or two another tension. You’ll get it, just play with the concept, its a type of undulating movement. The amount of force used is between 50-100% of your maximum. Then hold the last tension for about 30 seconds. This is a very different approach to yoga type workouts.
The second application you can play with which I tried as well is to take the stretch to a maximum length then tense until you get a spasm! Then increase it, tense until the last tension is held for some say up to 5 minutes. Some say its very effective, but too hard core for me. I believe you would have to be very motivated to “achieve” flexibility or are a sadomasochist who likes pain. Try it it may work for you.
The third method which I like to use when I am in the mood to focus on flexibility is to take the stretch to less then maximal then tense and hold for 3-5 seconds, relax and with 1-5 seconds stretch and tense again. Go until its obvious that you have achieved your maximum for that day and time. Experiment with the rest period and tension period to find out where you will get your best results. You can also try to contract the muscle opposing the stretch like quads if you are stretching the hamstrings.This is a very difficult practice because of mindfulness and body control. Standing stretches would be difficult to do because the necessary tension to maintain balance. Eventually you can work up to holding the last stretch up to 30 seconds or so. But, work up to it slowly as this is a form of strength training. After the last stretch of 30 seconds wait a minute or so of rest, use your judgement to see what rest period gives the best results. Do three to five repetitions of a whole stretch per workout. With each of these approaches its important to concentrate on the strength you will achieve in the maximally stretched position. This approach will thicken the attachments and give you more stability and protection against injury in sports other potential injury producing “accidents” like slipping and falling or twisting while lifting etc. So when you have reached the maximum in your stretch focus on tensing more and increasing the time in the tensed state. Again a very different approach to relaxed stretching. But, you still must breath in a relaxed manner, don’t hold your breath throughout the stretch. You breath in before the stretch, breath out during the tension period. You can hold the breath during the tension phase but in a relaxed manner. You can inhale during relaxation and tension. Use the breath as a tool to assist the stretching. But, again mindful of how its impacting both the relaxation phase and there tension phase. You shouldn’t be turning blue and having your veins pop out. All kidding aside, the breath is the secret to success and determination to reach a higher level of flexibility that is applicable for your sport or your well being.