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I noticed that I have significant flexibility increase in thighs after massaging the area.

I can almost do side split after a massage, but the next day I am all tight again.

If my goal was to improve flexibility, should I stretch after a massage or when I am tight again?

Thanks

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I'm trying to build flexibility, and found that neural system plays significant role. After stretching / mobility sessions I'm doing some simple exercises to be sure that my body is aware about new possibilities. That is not prefect, since that "next morning degradation" still happens, but is limited. Have you tried PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation)?

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It does not really matter, as long as you are properly warmed up before stretching. Never stretch a cold muscle! Massage increases blood flow, but you can also warm up your muscles yourself.

For a general fitness program, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends static stretching for most individuals that is preceded by an active warm-up, at least 2 to 3 days per week. (1)

Temporary, short term increase in flexibility is typical after massage or warm-up. Also, people are generally less flexible in the morning than later in the day. However, these short-term changes do not seem to make a difference in the long term:

Those who stretched in the evening did not have greater gains in ROM following a six week stretching protocol than those who stretched in the morning group. (2)

For long term flexibility gains, what matters is consistency and good form. It does not matter, whether you feel relatively tighter or more flexible during the stretching sessions. On average, your flexibility will increase in the same way in absolute terms.

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Increased flexibility of muscles after performing some physical activity is a common thing. By massaging an area of your body you tend to increase blood circulation to that area, which makes the muscles supple and flexible. Performing stretching would probably be more beneficial for you before rather than after a massage. Whenever you start your day, performing light stretching exercises of the thigh muscles and you will see a difference in the flexibility. There are some great YouTube videos for stretching exercises. Good luck!!

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