Stretching tips: sticking with it

June 16, 2011 at 3:34 am 1 comment

Several months ago, I ran across a 6-week stretching program for the splits.  I tried it out and was able to keep it up by stretching daily for almost three weeks.  But, by the middle of the third week, I became very busy and stopped stretching every day.  I told myself I would take a couple days off and get back into it, but I lost a lot of progress and dropped it for a while altogether.  Currently I am planning on starting over and stretching every day again – I’ve never been able to achieve the splits so it’s my main pole goal for the summer.

Based on what I learned from trying (and eventually failing) to schedule in a stretching routine the first time around, I’ve put together a solid method of attack.  Here are some things I’m going to try to remember that might help you reach your goals, too:

  • Set aside a specific time each day to stretch.  Sounds simple, but this is the biggest reason why I gave up – I lost track of time and by the end of the day I was tired and didn’t want to expend any more energy.  Keep in mind that you’ll probably be more bendy in the evening.
  • Follow a specific set of exercises in a specific order.  This one is optional for you depending on what your goals are, but for me this really helped to cut down on the amount of time I was spending stretching; once I became familiar with the pattern, it was easier to flow from one move to the next without wasting extra time in between.
  • Keep it brief.  You don’t need a stretch for every muscle – or even most of the muscles – in your body.  If you stretch every day, 15 min-1 hr should be enough (excluding warm-up) depending on whether you are stretching to increase or maintain flexibility.  If you are trying to increase flexibility in the splits, the 6-week program is a great place to start – it doesn’t take long and the stretches are pretty efficient.
  • Create a calming music playlist specifically for stretching.  I quickly found that certain songs helped me ease into the routine, and others made me tense up – even songs that I otherwise liked.
  • Go ahead: turn down the lights, light a candle, and turn off your phone.  Do whatever you can to create a space you can relax in.
  • Wearing comfortable clothes is a given, but I didn’t realize until I started working on the splits that footwear is essential too.  A pair of socks or slippers can make sliding down into position much smoother, as long as you feel secure and balanced.
  • Make your surroundings work for you.  It doesn’t make sense to buy expensive yoga blocks when you can lean on a chair, a wall, a book, a box, a towel, or anything else you might find around the house.  Your pole is a great tool to use for support as well.
  • Find a stretching buddy!  Always more fun than working alone.
  • Know when to quit.  Take care of your muscles.  At the very least, an injury could severely set back your progress.  Don’t push yourself too hard.  Be especially careful when stretching your neck and back.
  • Take pictures of yourself before you first begin your stretching program so that you can track your progress as you go along.  Even better, start a blog and share your progress with others!  When your goals are no longer private, it won’t be as easy to let go of them.  This is the best way I found that I could motivate myself to keep going.

Entry filed under: Goals, How To..., Inspiration. Tags: , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Chwenny  |  June 16, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    Great tips, I like the calming music suggestion. Good luck with your splits!


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