Stuck in a Flexibility Rut? My Best Advice to Help You Out.

Welcome to my blog! I’ve decided to start a blog to address flexibility & acrobatics related topics. I plan to write some skill specific posts, share exercises, experiences, & other miscellaneous content! We’ll see where it goes. Thanks for reading!

I really hope to be able to use this blog to answer questions too. I teach Acrobatic Arts out of a dance studio and freelance teaching flexibility. I absolutely LOVE what I do. I get a lot frequently asked questions from students & parents. My first post is to address one of those FAQs.

FAQ #1: “I stretch but feel like I am not progressing. I’m stuck where I am & feel unable to improve. What should I do?”

I hear this all the time! Whether you’re just getting started in training your flexibility or are a seasoned pro, everyone hits plateaus sometimes. Here are my recommendations for things to think about and try for anyone feeling stuck in a flexibility rut.

1.Flexibility progress comes slowly from diligent work. Flexibility comes little by little & only to those patient enough to continuously practice & train. You get what you give! Your splits won’t get flat overnight! Set realistic goals, be consistent, & try to stretch as frequently as you can. Progress will be pretty slow if you’re only training once a week. Aim for a few times a week, be patient, & don’t give up.

2. Always warm up before stretching. Never stretch cold! Start with some cardio & dynamic movements to get the body warmed up before getting into any deep stretches. When you stretch cold you’ll never achieve your best results & you’re risking injury.

3. Remember there are two kinds of pain when training flexibility, good pain & bad pain. The good pain is welcome. It’s the feeling of body stretching reasonably & safely past its usual limits. To progress in flexibility you have to get used to this kind of “good pain.” It’s not always fun, but I promise the more you train, the less sensitive you become to it. The bad pain is the pain of physically hurting yourself, i.e. pulling a muscle. Avoid this at all costs! Always push yourself the furthest you can while staying in the “good pain” range. Do not try exercises you do not know how to safely execute or are too advanced for where you’re at. You’ll be paying the price later.

4. Avoid tensing up during stretches. Simply put, stretching can be uncomfortable. It’s really easy to tense up and squeeze muscles to avoid getting deep into stretches. You want to release and relax into stretches. Keeping muscles engaged is good, clenching up & tensing is not.

5. Active flexibility is your friend. There’s a time and a place for passive & active flexibility. They both have their uses & benefits. Here’s an article that goes into detail on the differences of the two: https://barbend.com/passive-versus-active-stretching/. Simply put, passive exercises are ones you relax into that use external force (i.e. bodyweight, someone helping you stretch, etc.). People tend to favour passive flexibility exercises as they more relaxing & probably won’t cause you to break a sweat. Active stretches require actively engaging & using your own strength (i.e. laying on your back & doing kicks) & are often missing from peoples’ stretching routines. Active stretches condition muscles, build control, & help you actively work through your range of motion. Flexibility is nothing without the strength & control to back it up!

6. Change it up! Don’t stick to the same old stretches all the time! Sticking to what’s comfortable, familiar, & easy won’t help you progress. If you’re comfortable with an exercise & find it really easy to execute, it’s time to progress to a harder variation or try something new. I’m not saying throw away and forget your favourite exercises, just expand your repertoire & try new things! Also, don’t avoid stretches you know are going to challenge yourself and work your tightest areas. Those are the ones you need the most, even if they really aren’t fun to do at first. Again, always still stretch safely & work to your level.

I hope you find some of these tips helpful & they give you something to think about for the next time you stretch. I wish you the best in your flexibility journey!

-Mel