Flexibility training is perhaps the most undervalued component of conditioning.

5 stretching methods to improve your flexibility

If you are one of those people who say I am just not flexible, I am too old and there is no point in stretching it does no good, I am doomed to get hamstring injuries. You are really the guys I am writing this for.

While it is true that some people are naturally more flexible than others (Men have 15% on average more body tension than women) this is not the end of the story. We can all become more flexible at any age.

I have written this blog to talk through the types of stretching and recovery methods to gain the flexibility and full range of motion needed in an active body. Good range of motion is needed for the suspension systems of the body to function properly and prevent joint problems and painful spasms or knots.

Please be mindful of over stretching if you injure yourself you are actually making things more difficult you will have to stop and may heal with shorter muscles . When stretching as an adult you have to factor in enough healing time to be successful but do not leave things too long or you will heal stiffer. Consistency is the key.

Static Stretching

Flexibility training by the pool Tekne Retreats Ibiza.

Flexibility training by the pool at Tekne Retreats Ibiza.

Static stretching is where you get into the most extended position you can anf hold it.  If you breath through the stretch the muscle slowly releases you will get the great results.

Here at Tekne we use yoga asanas (poses) mixed with some gymnastics partner stretching to get the optimum result .

It is said that strong stretching can affect strength performance in the short term.

I think this may have some validity but my thinking is that training sessions should be clearly categorised. One lesson more strength based and another more flexibility based, another more skills or alignment work.

Static stretching needs to be done when the body is very warm and is best tackled in the correct sequence in order to release some parts of the anatomy to stretch the correct muscles. These sequences can act almost like magic, at our retreats you will learn by stretching and unlocking one part of the body you will be able to be more flexible in another.

Poor technique can course posture and joint problems. It also gives low strength performance, this is why we are so strict on technique here at Tekne. If you are training with misalignment regularly it won’t be long before your body lets you know.

Passive or Assisted stretching

This is where you extend beyond what your body can do on its own and you are applying force to get there. This is a useful tool but you really need to know what you are doing pushing your body in the wrong axis may result in injury. If you are working with a partner you must communicate to where you are feeling your maximum stretch is. On finishing your passive stretch always release very slowly allowing the muscle to slowly return to a relaxed state.

PNF (proprioceptive muscular facilitation)

Flexibility doesn't have to be a struggle. Use these strategies to get flexible fast in a smart and efficient way.

Flexibility doesn’t have to be a struggle. Use these strategies to get flexible in a smart and efficient way.

This seen as the most effective form of training.

Once you have got as far into splits (or extension) as you can you contract the muscles. With splits imagine you are cutting into the floor with your legs as a pair of scissors, hold for ten seconds and release. Once you release you should find you are deeper into splits hold this phase for 30 sec. Repeat this process 3 times and you will find you are at you max. This process can be applied in all the static stretching poses.

Ballistic stretching

This is when you are using a swing or accelerated move to expand the range of motion. Swinging the leg to the side front or back for example. Ballistics stretching is more advanced and must be carried out strictly as if you swing in the wrong axis you may cause ligament damage.

Active Stretch

This is where you use abduction (limbs pulled away from the body) or holding a shape like standing splits or straddle leaver (Elevated L sit)

Once you have the flexibility then you need the control to use it. At Tekne Retreats Ibiza we have a lesson called intelligent movement using rolls and gymnastics progressions to finely hone motor skills. This gives you great confidence. These fun activities really are great fun but give you so much physical confidence.

 

Recovery tricks

  1. Cold press: take a towel dip it in iced water and wrap it round the area you have been stretching.
  2. Cold bath: Put several bags of ice into a bath dip for 5 minutes
  3. BALLS and Rollers
At Tekne Retreats Ibiza we have many classes to help with flexibility but here is a break down of the different types of stretching.

“Roller Seminar“ is a seminar and practical on how to use the massage roller to iron out tired muscles.

Make a plan.

“Rome was not build in a day”!

Add a stretching routine to your work out schedule. The secret to long lasting flexibility is consistent stretching. Follow a sequence that is relevant to the muscles you are going to work.

Tips

Keep hydrated stay away from coffee and high salt foods. If you have joint pain try glucosamine phosphate. Do not be tempted to use pain killers to tear the muscle you need to listen to your muscles.  Why not contact Des at info@teknefitness.com and ask about any problems or goals you might have.

Remember little and often and don’t over stretch and make sure you are warmed up.

Des is the founder and head coach at Tekne Fitness Retreats Ibiza. He is a gymnast with over 20 years extensive coaching experience. His specialty lies in inspirational and fun teaching techniques for all ages.
A stopwatch is useful interval training like Tabata

Tabata 16 minute workout: the pocket rocket of exercise

Tabata Training is the most efficient way to increase your metabolism and fitness level the shortest time.

If like most of us you join and gym with the best intentions and then you never go because you just don’t have the time. You miss a few sessions and before you know it you are in an unhealthy routine.

This only takes a few minutes and needs no equipment. I would recommend doing it in the morning as soon as you wake up and keep the exercises varied.

You can download a Tabata timer on your phone that talks over the music so no need to miss out on the tunes

We use it as a warm up. Here at Tekne we love the intensity.

What is Tabata?

Tabata training was discovered by Japanese scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata and a team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo.

Tabata and his team conducted research on two groups of athletes. The first group trained at a moderate intensity level while the second group trained at a high-intensity level. The moderate intensity group worked out five days a week for a total of six weeks; each workout lasted one hour. The high-intensity group worked out four days a week for six weeks; each workout lasted four minutes and 20 seconds (with 10 seconds of rest in between each set).

The results; Group 1 had increased their aerobic system (cardiovascular), but showed little or no results for their anaerobic system (muscle). Group 2 showed much more increase in their aerobic system than Group 1, and increased their anaerobic system by 28 percent.

In conclusion, high-intensity interval training has more impact on both the aerobic and anaerobic systems.

Tabata Program

Each exercise in a given Tabata workout lasts only four minutes, but it’s likely to be one of the longest four minutes you’ve ever endured. The structure of the program is as follows:

  • Workout hard for 20 seconds
  • Rest for 10 seconds
  • Complete 8 rounds

You push yourself as hard as you can for 20 seconds and rest for 10 seconds. This is one set. You’ll complete eight sets of each exercise.

You can do pretty much any exercise you wish. You can do squats, push-ups, burpees or any other exercise that works your large muscle groups. Kettlebell exercises work great, too.

An example of a Tabata workout looks like this:

  1. Push-ups (4 minutes) 
  2. Bodyweight Squats (4 minutes)
  3. Burpees (4 minutes)
  4. Mountain Climbers (4 minutes)

Start with push-ups. Perform them for 20 seconds at a high-intensity. Rest for 10 seconds, and then go back to doing push-ups for 20 seconds. Once you complete eight sets of push-ups, rest for one minute.

Next, move on to squats and repeat the sequence of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off. Once you finish eight sets of squats, rest for one minute, and then do burpees. After burpees, finish the workout with mountain climbers.

Tabata workouts are always an integral part of our fitness retreats in Ibiza. Look for our upcoming retreats now!

Des is the founder and head coach at Tekne Fitness Retreats Ibiza. He is a gymnast with over 20 years extensive coaching experience. His specialty lies in inspirational and fun teaching techniques for all ages.