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First, some context: I'm a 32 years old developer who spends most of the day sit, go to swimming classes once a week, and does weightlifting (at home) whenever it finds time, now moving from Stronglifts to Starting Strength (but sadly not dedicating the three times a week they recommend, so I'm not doing heavy lifting yet).

From my swimming classes and paying attention to squat videos, I have realized that I lack (a lot of) flexibility in:

  • shoulders
  • hips
  • ankles

Now the questions:

1) Should I be concerned about this issue? Let's say, it's going to affect me badly when I become old.

2) If I should, then should I spend all time I have doing flexibility exercises, or can I mix them with regular strength exercises? (squat, bench press and pull ups are the ones I like the most)

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As a fellow developer, I too have flexibility issues in my shoulders/hips/legs. I have fixed most of my issues through daily stretching, 3/wk foam rolling, and 1/wk message therapy. Beware, at the beginning when you are most tense is when foam rolling and message hurt the most; this is because they are actively breaking up the muscle adhesions and fascial restrictions that have built up over time. –  Moses Nov 28 '12 at 19:01
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2 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Should you be Concerned:

Actually you don't have to wait until you are old to be badly affected by lack of flexibility. Anytime you have an area of your body that does not move correctly, it affects other parts of your body by making them substitute their normal motions with movements that compensate for the tight areas that are not doing their part. Overtime this can lead to more and more restrictions which can make you more susceptible to injury.

So you are correct to begin to add flexibility training into your routine. There are several questions and answers that can help you get started. @Informaficker's answer has several links that address flexibility for a better squat. Here are some other questions and answers that can help you:

Information About Flexibility Routines:

When to Stretch:

As for working your flexibility exercises into your routine, prior to your workouts you want to use dynamic exercises to warm up, increase your circulation and prepare the muscles and tendons for your workout. After your workout when your muscles are warm you can add some gentle passive stretches to gain range. Do not overstretch.

Foam Roller

If you have some specific restrictions, using a foam roller to release areas of tightness can help.

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Interesting, I didn't know there were static and dynamic stretching. I'll try to get a foam roll and do some of those exercises. –  Luciano Nov 29 '12 at 15:30
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Stronglifts has some exercises to boost flexibility on their site.

How to Boost Your Flexibility with Shoulders Dislocations
How to Improve Your Shoulder Flexibility for Squats
How to Boost Your Hip Flexibility for Squats

I have not found anything for ankle flexibility, but as the hip exercise uses the basic squat motion, it might fix your akles, too.

I have already given an answer to a similar question. I quote partially:

Contrary to what the author of stronglifts says [about shoulder dislocations] I would not recommend using a flexible band. This only makes it harder to keep your arms parallel to each other. [That's] what the coach in this video says.

I personally do flexibility exercises before, during or after my workouts. I am not lifting, but mainly doing body-weight exercises so I can incorporate dynamic stretching pretty well anywhere between my sets. Eg instead of doing nothing in a pause I do shoulder dislocations.

Be careful when doing flexibility exercises, don't rip yourself apart. Don't push it when it hurts. You don't want to increase the pain levels your body can withstand. Pain is a good warning sign for yourself when to stop, if your try to push it you are just learning to ignore warning signs. I have not done extensive stretching in the last year, but when I began doing sports and exercises this year I was not able to reach down to my toes, now I am.

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Please take the last paragraph very seriously. –  medmal Nov 30 '12 at 5:14
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