I have really tight hamstrings. I mean REALLY tight. A doctor once told me I had the flexibility of a 70 year old. This was when I was 16.
I’ve tried yoga in the past…sticking with it for a couple of months at a time. I’ve had trouble sticking with yoga. I’ve tried a ‘free’ class at a commercial gym that has a young, peppy, very bendy instructor who doesn’t really offer modified poses. I’ve also tried the other route – going to an actual yoga studio and attending classes geared toward senior citizens where the instructor is very mindful of modifications. No, I’m not joking. It was a room full of ladies who were 50+ and myself (at the time I was 24). Ultimately I had to give up the fancy yoga studio due to finances.
Anyhoo, I digress. this post isn’t about sticking with yoga. The truth of the matter is that flexibility training hasn’t been very important to me. If it was, I would have found a way to work it into my routine.
We all know we should stretch. Is it really that important? Actually, yes. Hamstring flexibility is associated with a lower risk of injury (e.g., Hartig & Henderson, 1999).
Okay then, so what do we do if we, say, are a 28 year old with the flexibility of a 70 year old woman? Studies have shown that one of the most effective ways to increase flexibility is static stretching – Scott et al. (2005) found that people who stretched three days a week, with 1 repetition of 30 seconds, significantly increased hamstring flexibility.
As I gear up for training for the San Francisco Marathon, I definitely want to decrease my risk of injury and I know that stretching is an important aspect of this. Furthermore, one of my 2012 goals is to be able to do a front-bend and be able to touch my toes by December 31st, 2012. Yes, I am so inflexible that I think I will need that many months to work on my goal.
And so my game plan for my goal is to do a bit of stretching every day, but three times a week do a more extended stretching routine. This is my starting point for flexibility, I’ll update in a month or so and let you know how I’m progressing: