Many people who work out on a regular basis are failing to receive the full benefits of training simply because they neglect to stretch or they don’t stretch properly. Gaining flexibility is critical to maximizing your endurance capabilities and flexibility is only possible through stretching.

1. Stretch After a Workout

Many people begin their workouts with a stretch, but this is actually a poor time for stretching, as you run the risk of tiring out your muscles. The start of training is best for a dynamic warmup to prepare your muscles. You should feel physically warm and energized — ready for the actual training.

There are many benefits to stretching after a workout. With your body warm, you can focus on gaining flexibility and finding a release. Make sure that you stretch all the muscles you’ve exercised as well as anything that feels tight — after all, you work your muscles throughout the day, not just during training.

2. Stretch Often and At Any Time

If you’re committed to gaining flexibility, you need to stretch at regular intervals. You should be stretching for at least five to 10 minutes every day, even on days you don’t work out. It is best if you can dedicate a couple of longer training sessions just to stretching. You’ll find that you’ll start gaining flexibility faster and these changes will be reflected in your performance.

3. Stop If It Hurts

Often, exercising means pushing yourself to the limits, even if your body hurts. This is not true with stretching. You should only ever stretch as far as it feels comfortable to you. Reach a good stretch and stop. If you go further, you may tear a muscle, which will be counterproductive to gaining flexibility. One way to counter this using the assisted stretching benefits of a reputable program.

4. Try Different Types of Stretches for Gaining Flexibility

There is a widespread myth that you need to hold stretches for a prolonged period of time for stretching to be effective. However, this is just one type of stretch — called a static stretch. Whereas static stretches are useful for gaining flexibility, dynamic stretches are equally beneficial. Dynamic stretching involves moving your body to keep the muscle contracting and relaxing.

There is also a third type of stretch called a ballistic stretch. It involves forcing your body into a deeper stretch through strong, quick movements. Ballistic stretching does little to help with gaining flexibility and can actually have the opposite effect. Plus, it puts you at a higher risk of injury. You’d do better to just stick with dynamic and static stretches.

5. Relax Your Shoulders

No matter what part of the body you’re stretching, you need to pay attention to your shoulders. It is common to start tensing up your shoulders, which will cause them to rise. Not only will this create tightness in your upper body, it will also stop you from stretching your body fully.

Flexibility is just as important as any other aspect of fitness. If you want to make sure that you’re constantly gaining flexibility to keep increasing your endurance, you need to add stretching to your weekly routine.