Firstly, I am no stretching or flexibility expert, and any advice I give is from my own research and my own trial and error and experiences. I have been stretching and trying to increase my own flexibility for the last 5 or so years I would say.
I have watched almost every stretching and flexibility video on you tube and read every single one of those articles titled: Top 10 best stretches for the splits, or Stretches to get your splits in one day/week/month.
They’re all misleading. If you are not very flexible and you are not a young child, the splits will take time, even years.
Yes sure, some of the articles show you a number of good stretches to help with your routine but do not fall for all those click bait titles thinking there is some particular stretch or technique that will get your splits in a day after doing them. Be prepared for a journey and probably a long one that will be painful at times (most times, but a nice painful :p ).
Anyway, another piece of stretching advice that I always come across and want to quickly touch on, is the infamous ‘stretch everyday‘ advice. So many articles and videos advise that you need to stretch everyday in order to become more and more flexible. While this may be decent advice, more context is hardly ever given along with it to clarify a few things.
For example, these factors should be taken into account:
- How intense is your stretching.
- How long are you stretching.
- How is your eating/sleeping/recovery time.
You also need to first distinguish why you are stretching. Is it just to keep nimble and relatively flexible while adding in a nice relaxing cool down after your workout, or is it to get the splits or pancake stretch. If it’s the latter then this article is for you. If you just want to keep nimble then doing a few stretches for a few minutes everyday is great and will certainly benefit you.
Why do I say this. Well when wanting to achieve the splits you may think that you need to really stretch for long periods of time and force yourself into certain stretches while fighting the pain. You shouldn’t have to force it so much but you will need to push a little harder every now and again in certain stretches to progress, but not so much that you feel serious pain or agony. When doing this, though, you then need to make sure that you give yourself enough time to rest and recover from your stretching session. Some days you will feel a lot more flexible than others and you will go beyond your normal level, but the days after you may find that you will feel quite stiff. That is your body still recovering from the intense stretching session, similar to how you need to rest your muscles and let them recover after weight training.
So if you try to incorporate this, stretching everyday into your routine, you may find yourself struggling to recover and eventually hurting yourself, especially if you try to push yourself deeper and deeper every session.
So remember to try not to have a deep stretching session every single day. Alternate between deep sessions and light maybe more yoga flow like sessions if you want to do it every day. And do not be afraid to take a day or two off if you feel overly stiff and tired. On those days you can do 5 to 10 minutes of basic stretches with no force whatsoever, just let it flow.