Contract/Relax Stretch

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Even big guys must stretch after workouts or risk developing tight muscles, which can inhibit their speed and increase their chance of injury. Case in point: Pittsburgh Steelers LB LaMarr Woodley (6'2", 265 pounds).

To improve his flexibility, Woodley works with performance training specialist Marcus Simmons of Athletic Republic (Auburn Hills, Mich.). They employ a Contract/Relax technique to override the brain's natural instinct to tighten a muscle when it contracts, thus stretching the muscle more effectively.

How to do it:

Grab a partner and begin a stretch. Once you find the limit of the stretch—it should feel slightly uncomfortable—hold the position for 10 seconds. Then push against your partner's resistance for five seconds. Stop pressing and allow your partner to try increasing the stretch. Repeat the sequence three times.

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