Flexibility training is more than just stretching. Stretching is what you do after a warmup and before a workout. Stretching helps get the body ready for what it is about to do. Dynamic stretching is exactly that: preparing the body for the movement it is about to encounter during a sporting activity or workout.

A lot of people stretch before an activity, and the number should be higher, but the problem is not that people aren’t stretching. The problem is that people who do stretch are only doing it right before a game or workout and at no other point during the week.

You can train to become more flexible. Flexibility is stretching amplified. You must stretch to become flexible, but it is an almost daily routine and process. It doesn’t have to take up all your time, but flexibility training allows your body to grow stronger and prevents dreaded injuries. Imagine a professional basketball player or golfer who only stretched on game days. They would be stretched and ready to go for that day’s game, but how flexible are they really? Take a football player who only plays once a week for example. If he stretched on Sundays only, would he be able to touch his toes on a Wednesday?

It’s not only how much stretching you do on a particular day (like game day) but what you do throughout the week to prepare with flexibility training that is going to allow you to build an ample flexible body.

Because you could potentially lack flexibility in nearly every muscle group in your body, it’s tough to pick one routine that reaches them all. You need to run some tests on your self to see where you may be lacking. A personal trainer, physical therapist or orthopedic surgeon can also help, for they’re trained to test and discover any and all muscle imbalances or areas of decreased flexibility. The first test (and easiest) for you to try is the toe-touch test. Stand tall with your feet together. Bend at the waist and see if you can touch your toes while keeping your legs straight. If you can’t you are lacking flexibility either in your hamstrings, Erector spinae (back muscles running from the top of the spine to the top of the tailbone), calves or even your feet and ankles.

Try this flexibility routine to improve flexibility in all the trouble areas preventing the toe-touch:

Cats & Dogs

Get into the quadruped position on all fours. Your knees should be under your thighs and hips and your hands should be directly under your arms and shoulders. Start by arching your back like a cat and then flattening (to the point of rounding) like a dog. This is also called “Cat-Camel”, because of the hump that forms. This exercise loosens up the back muscles and provides lubrication to the lower back muscles. Hold each for 1-2 seconds and perform 10-12 reps.

Toe-Touch (Toes Up)

Place a 2×4 or weight plate under your toes so that they are elevated. Perform 10 toe touches (as far as you can reach) by bending at the waist. Your toes have been moved closer to you.

Search & Destroy

Flexibility problems and failed toe-touches don’t always come from tight hamstrings. Sometimes your calves and/or feet are so tight you can’t perform the exercise. Loosen up the calves by utilizing a foam roller or massage stick. Roll the back of your calves for a minute. Roll your feet with tennis balls or golf balls to loosen them up.

After trying all these exercises. Try the toe-touch test again and see if you haven’t improved with how far you can reach. Often your TFL (tensor fasciae latae) will relax with these flexibility exercises, allowing you to touch your toes. If you don’t immediately see improvement, do this routine for a few days and keep trying to touch your toes.

Whatever areas of your body you lack flexibility, you can absolutely train to become more flexible. Commit to stretching to become flexible, and you will become flexible. You will stay off the sidelines and always be ready for game day.