HOW TO STRETCH FOR MAXIMUM RESULTS
By Wahib Bennis

Before starting any stretching program it is important to understand how to stretch first. The following information will help you stretch for maximum results. How often do I need to stretch? In order to gain maximum results it is important to stretch three (3) times per week. This can be spaced out throughout your week e.g. Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays or Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. You can also stretch everyday. However, if you are stretching everyday you should take between one (1) to two (2) days off from stretching per week just to let your muscles rest and recuperate.

How hard should I stretch? There are two (2) main types of pain that you may feel when you stretch. The first type is a warning pain. Warning pains tell you that you may injure your muscle(s) if you continue stretching. You get this type of pain if your muscles are injured, overworked or if you are stretching too hard. The other type of pain is a stretching pain. This is simply the sensation that you get when you are stretching near to your maximum. This pain is normal and it is more similar to the sensation of lifting weights to the point of fatigue. You need to feel the stretch in order to advance. With time you will be able to tell the difference between these types of pain. ‘If in doubt get out' (of the stretch). If you feel a warning pain, come out of the stretch slowly. If you feel a stretching pain then try to relax the muscle. If you are stretching three (3) days per week then you can stretch hard and try to increase your maximum stretch. If you are stretching more then three (3) days per week make sure that every session is not a hard session e.g. Monday increase your maximum stretch, Tuesday maintain your maximum stretch, Wednesday increase, Thursday maintain etc. Never force a stretch, instead always relax into the stretch. The more relaxed you are the better the stretch will be. How long should I hold a stretch for? In order to get any results from stretching it is important to hold the stretch for at least ten (10) seconds. This does not mean that when you start the stretch you start to count to ten (10). It means that after you start the stretch and when you are at your maximum stretch then start to count for ten (10) seconds. Make sure to vary your routine and experiment by holding your stretch for longer periods of time e.g. thirty (30) seconds, sixty (60) seconds etc. In order to increase you stretch always do what feels hardest e.g. if holding a stretch for ten seconds is easy then increase the stretch or increase the time that the stretch is held for.

How many sets of each stretch should I perform? Each stretch should be performed three (3) times each. Take a quick break in between each stretch not lasting longer then sixty (60) seconds. How do I breath when stretching? I have seen many people hold their breath and turn purple when stretching and only come out of the stretch in order to catch their breath! You don't want to do this. Breathe as normally as possible in through your nose and out through your mouth. Concentrate on your breathing more so then on your stretch and this can help you to relax. The more relaxed you are the better your stretch will be. Every time you exhale try to relax more and increase you stretch.

How do I increase my splits? If every time you stretch you try to increase your previous stretch by only one quarter of an inch, it will be a very short period of time until you can do the full splits. Take things gradually and relax into every stretch. Follow the rest of this program and make sure that you are consistent and you will achieve your goals. This Article is an extract from ‘ACHIEVING THE SPLITS!'