originally posted at http://www.goodfeelingplace.com/the-key-to-flexibility-is-untimed-stretching
When I was a freshman in college, I sustained a head injury from a car accident which required me to relearn many basic functions, including walking, talking, and writing with a pencil. Arizona State University (where I went to school) has a very good disability support system. Due to my injury which happened over Christmas break, I was allowed to take untimed tests that spring. For most classes that didn’t matter, but for Physics that is the main reason I got an A in that class – hardly anyone finished those tests, but I remember sitting in the disabilities center for about 3 hours to finish each one.
That semester I didn’t get to compete on the gymnastics team either, but I did spend time in the gym, mostly stretching. Once I was able to workout again I was more flexible than before, which was great. I learned a great deal about how to improve flexibility from the times I was injured in college and could only stretch.
I learned that holding a stretch for 30 seconds or a minute during group stretches (where everyone is doing the same stretch) is much less effective than settling into a stretch and just relaxing and letting the world go by as if you weren’t there. Reading a book, talking to a friend, or even watching TV while stretching is great, so you can take your mind off it and relax.
These days, as I am doing circles on my mushroom almost everyday, I stretch for awhile soon after doing circles when my heart slows down a bit, and I also stretch at night before going to bed. I was just stretching at night, but since I’ve started doing circles again I know that I need to stretch my wrists right after working out in order to not tighten up. That way my nightly stretching can be helping me get more flexible instead of just catching up from the workout of the day (working out tightens muscles in general, so stretching is good to do after any type of workout).
So the next time you workout and feel the rush of endorphins, take the time to stretch and enjoy the natural, relaxing, good feelings of a healthy body. It will help you keep the good vibes going longer. If you want to gain flexibility, also pick another time in the day when you can either relax and meditate, or engage your thoughts in something else (like a book, homework, tv, or talking with a friend) while you stretch.