Stretching is essential for freediving. It stimulates venous circulation, increases your flexibility, and creates body awareness.
In this episode of The Complete Guide, Thibault Guignes looks into a few pro recommendations for your stretching practice.

Why Is Stretching Important In Freediving?

The first benefit of stretching is that you will recover better after you dive or after an effort, as it stimulates venous circulation. Another benefit is the increase in your flexibility. So, increasing your flexibility means you will be able to handle the pressure better at depth, but also it will make you have a more efficient and better technique, because the more flexible you are the more the little parasitic movements are removed, and then you have better technique and more efficiency. Another reason why you will have better technique, and to me, that's one of the biggest benefits of stretching, is the body awareness it will help you to get. For sure if you invest time in stretching, you will eventually get great body awareness and that will help you to develop a better technique for all disciplines, but also you will be able to relax way more. And last but not least, you can also work on your lung capacity with stretching. You can either increase your total lung capacity with what we call full lung stretching and you can also decrease your residual volume - the residual volume being the volume that you have left in your lungs after a full exhale. That means that if you have a lower residual volume you will be able to equalize deeper and also better for the same depth, your equalization will be easier, and also that will help you handle the pressure at depth much better.

Hold For 30 Seconds

A few recommendations for your stretching practice. The first thing is that you should hold the stretching positions for at least 30 seconds. If you want to develop flexibility in the long term, this kind of stretching is necessary. If you do it shorter, you might get some of the other benefits, but the long-term flexibility will not work as well.


The second advice is when you do a certain stretch, a certain position, and if you want to push it a little bit, make sure you make it on an exhale. When you exhale it sends signals to your brain to relax your muscles and usually that helps to increase the amplitude of the stretching in a natural way.


Another recommendation is about regularity. The idea is not to do one stretching session every two weeks, pushing like crazy, sweating and hurting, and then not having the motivation to do it for the next two weeks. It's better to do light and enjoyable sessions, like three-four times a week. You can even do it in front of a movie if you like, it doesn't really matter, the important is that you do it regularly. So, make it an enjoyable moment, do yoga if you prefer to do yoga, but do it regularly and consistently.

Warm Up

Also, you can do a little bit of warm-up before stretching, that will definitely help. You can do a bit of more dynamic stretching, where you do movements on all your body to warm up for the stretch. And in the same spirit, don't stretch too strong right away, especially if you're not warmed up, you might damage your muscles.


Another important point is to focus on your stretching while you are stretching. Try to feel which muscle you stretch, and how you feel in your body, that's how you will develop body awareness during the stretching routines.

When Should You Stretch?

Definitely, before you dive, if you stretch you should keep it light. Because stretching can be tiring and also you kind of feel the elasticity of your muscle fiber and then they take a bit of time to recover. So keep it light before your sessions. Now, should you do it in the morning, in the evening, in the afternoon, to me, the most important point is to do it regularly. Do it when you have time first, it's already a big step, and then if you want to optimize a bit your practice, you can, but the first step is to actually do it.

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