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A guide to starting flexibility training

If you`ve previously omitted flexibility training or stretching from your workouts, or you just want to know how to stretch safely, then the following stretching guide will answer any flexibility questions you might have.

Flexibility training is probably the most neglected of all the components of a fitness programme - not because it is difficult, but because many people perceive that unless they`re getting hot and sweaty, they`re not actually making any fitness gains. Yet flexibility exercises can mean the difference between success and failure, and also the difference between safety and injury.

This stretching guide includes information on:

1. Different types of stretching exercises
2. Flexibility training benefits
3. How to stretch

Flexibility training and exercise workouts

Including flexibility training in your workouts is extremely important to counteract the three primary factors that are responsible for tight, inflexible muscles. These are:

1. The aging process. As we age, our bodies tend to dehydrate - plus the structures of our tissues will change, making our muscles less supple or less `stretchy`.

2. The very act of training itself. When a muscle is exercised and develops, over time it will become tighter - and therefore its flexibility will decrease.

3. Lifestyle postural problems. Sedentary lifestyles - including long hours spent seated while working at computers, watching TV and/or driving - contribute to the development of poor posture, whereby some muscles become overstretched or less flexible.

The purpose of regular stretching is to maintain or improve your flexibility so that you get full mobility and a complete range of movement for each muscle.

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