You probably already have quite a good idea of what this is. Relaxed stretching is a low intensity technique that can be performed by beginners or those recovering from an injury. Because of its light intensity you can often do it without a (long) warm up. By gradually increasing the intensity of the stretch you can get more flexible. This should be effortless, so if you feel sore the day after, you did not perform the technique correctly!
The technique itself is very simple. What you do is hold a certain position (the stretching exercise). You try to go as far as you can. When you do not feel anything, you are not stretching far enough. When you feel pain you are going too far and need to go back! What you should feel during static stretching is a slight discomfort. This discomfort should slowly go away the longer you hold the position. When the discomfort goes away you can increase the intensity of the stretch so that you will feel a slight discomfort again.
You can do the relaxed stretching technique daily if you want. Because of its low intensity you can easily use relaxed stretching exercises once a day, or even multiple times a day. Beginners might find it difficult to stretch without a warm up. If you feel you need a warm up you could run a few laps or skip rope for 5-10 minutes prior to your flexibility training. Otherwise, just start of slowly and increase the stretching gradually during your training.
On average you should hold the position of the exercises for about 3 sets of 10-20 seconds. However, you might want to increase that amount of time, especially if you are more advanced. Rest between sets is not really necessary. If you want you can take a short break of around 10 seconds to release the tension a bit.
Doing stretching exercises in the morning can increase your flexibility throughout the rest of the day. However, your muscles are quite stiff in the morning (due to lack of activity) and therefore you will not reach your maximum flexibility level in the morning. So in the afternoon and evening your muscles are more flexible. You can get closer to your maximum level of flexibility in the afternoon and evening.
Stretching should not be done before a workout. It calms down the body and that is exactly what you should avoid when going to participate in sports. Stretching after a workout is better, although it does NOT decrease muscle soreness after a workout. That is a big myth! There are a few exceptions though. When you are a gymnast or martial artist you most likely do want to incorporate stretching in your workout! The reason for this is because these sports require a great level of flexibility.
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