How Should I Stretch For Calisthenics?


I have learned the hard way that stretching is important to advancing in calisthenics

If you want to advance to the extreme calisthenics movements, start working on your flexibility, mobility, and stability now. So as you gain strength to do those movements, you won’t be held back by your weakness in any of those areas.

Calisthenics is fun. There are always new moves to learn. Building a solid foundation of strength, flexibility, mobility, and stability will ensure your success in the sport.
Trying to advance yourself to quickly, especially if you’re an old guy will just lead to injury and frustration.

What Is The Difference Between Stretching And Warming Up?

To put it short, warming up is done before a workout, and stretching is done after a workout.
When you warm up, you are giving the joints and ligament some movement through full range, in order to prepare them for doing that range with the stress of weight.
Many calisthenics movements are what would be considered extreme strength movements. Which requires you to have strength not only in your muscle, but also in your ligaments. Developing this kind of strength is what makes calisthenics ideal for old guys.It’s a kind of strength and flexibility that will serve you well as you get older. Imagine doing a handstand at the senior pool party. There won’t be a grey haired lady in the area that won’t be checking that out.

Warming up is more about the ligaments and joints than stretching the muscle. The ligaments attach the bone to the muscle. Guess where your next injury is going to be if you don’ warm up properly. As tough as ligaments are, they tend to get a little brittle as you get old, if you don’t take care of them.
Properly warming up is not only great before a workout, but is a great daily routine to keep yourself limber all day.

Warming up, or moving your body in such a way that your joints can go through their full range of motion with no added weight. Doing this will increase your mobility.
Mobility is the ability of your body to have its full range of motion. As we get older we lose that. Only because we don’t do anything to increase our mobility for decades, then have a pain everywhere when we get older. Especially now, with all those cool devices that keep us looking down all the time.
If you think I’m talking crap, raise your arm straight up. Now keep that arm going as far as you can behind your back. If you can’t reach back far enough to give yourself a good solid pat on the back, right in the center of your back, then you have mobility problems.
Your stretching program should include not only stretches that increase your flexibility, but also your mobility. Touching your toes is great flexibility but does little for exposing your joints to the range of motion that is possible.

Stretching plays a big part in developing your bodies mobility, as well as its flexibility, if done properly. By stretching the warmed up muscle, you will develop the flexibility to move your joints farther. Increasing your mobility.

Why Is Stretching Good After A Workout?

If you take one of those fat blue rubber bands from the asparagus you have had recently, because you’re eating healthier, put it in the freezer. After it has enough time to get frozen, pull it out and stretch it. If it doesn’t completely break, it will definitely be damaged.
The same thing happens to your muscles if you start stretching them hard, without warming them up or better yet, going through your workout first. A muscle can warm up for exercising relatively quickly, but stretching a muscle that’s not thoroughly pumped and ready to be stretched, could tear the muscle rather than stretch it. Plus stretching feels great after a workout because it’s what your body wants. This helps you pump old nutrients out of your muscles and replenish them with fresh blood a nutrients.
The ligaments also benefit from the stretching at this time. Ligaments are not easy to stretch anytime, but after a workout is when they are most ready to be stretched. This will of coarse help you with your mobility.

What Is Stability?

Stability is the ability to use your full range of mobility, and being stable and in control throughout that range of movement. By developing your strength and flexibility, you can create more mobility and stability within your body. To perform the  more advanced calisthenics movements, You will need to improve in these areas. So I suggest that you start working on them earlier, rather than waiting until your muscles get stronger. They will only be that much harder to stretch.

Flexibility vs Mobility vs Stability

Some would argue that one is more important than the other. There are people who workout only to build their mobility, others who stretch a lot, and those who only work on gaining strength.
I would consider these three to be the legs of a stool. If one is weak or short, your stool will not stand. On the other hand, if these three are all equally trained. You will be able to use the strength you are developing to its fullest capacity.
For an example, to do a handstand takes strength. It doesn’t matter how strong you are if your should and chest don’t have the flexibility to get into the handstand, you will struggle to hold it. If you are flexible, but have no stability in the muscle needed to hold the handstand. It would be like trying to stand a piece of cooked spaghetti on end.

Is Yoga Good For Mobility And Stability

I certainly don’t want to see any old guys running around in yoga pants. There are some yoga practices that will help you strengthen and develop your mobility, stability, and of coarse flexibility. Adding some yoga stretches and poses to your workout will definitely help you progress through calisthenics smoother.
Yoga uses a lot of static holds, in very awkward positions. Some of these holds can help you build that stability. Yoga also has a large array of different stretching poses, that are sure to stretch those ligaments in ways they probably have never felt before.
You can watch a video to learn some poses. I had a lot of difficulty trying to keep up with the people in those video’s. By the time I would get into position to do the move, they were already move on to the next. I found it easier to just watch the video and learn a few moves that I could do at my own pace.

So I definitely recommend looking into yoga, but still don’t want to see any of us in yoga pants.
I don’t think anyone wants to.

 

 

Ken

Trying to beat the hands of time is a challenge. I have found calisthenics to be an outstanding way to get into shape, and have some fun. I will tell you in my posts why I like calisthenics over pumping iron, for keeping in shape as I get older, and why you might want to give it a try.

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