•You do not need to be a contortionist to reap the benefits of stretching and flexibility exercises. Here is evidence of that. . .
Some people simply have an easier time getting to certain positions than others. Strive for flexibility within your own limitations. It should not be competitive. In fact, striving for “loose joints” may increase the chances of injury in some athletics.
•Practice dynamic or static stretching. To simplify those terms, dynamic stretching means there is more movement involved, such as in Tai Chi, Pilates, and some forms of yoga. Static stretching refers to the stretch-and-hold types, as in most yoga practices.
A third form, ballistic stretching, is characterized by rapid and sometimes jerky or bouncy movements. It is not appropriate for a cooling off period following a workout.
•Do not force your stretching. Relax into a stretch. That means go only to the edge of discomfort. Then back off just a bit and hold that position for a moment, allowing your body to relax. Be soft. By not forcing yourself to go further, your muscles will relax and then you will find that you can — softly — move further into your stretch than you thought possible. Then hold 10 or 15 seconds.
There are many good ways of stretching. One excellent book on the subject is Stretching, by Bob Anderson, and published by Shelter Publications. It’s usually available in paperback for under $15.00.
The following links will provide more information on the formal flexibility exercises and movements of . . .