SHAPING UP: It is sometimes too easy to overlook the huge benefits stretching offers
Stretching is usually neglected because people want to be ‘in and out’ as quickly as possible and the results of stretching may not be as visible as the weight lifting or cardio parts of their workout.
However, if you include 5-10 minutes of stretching at the end of every workout the benefits can be huge….
Not only can improved flexibility make everyday activities easier, but it can also help delay the reduced mobility that can come with aging.
Increased Range of Motion
Being able to move a joint through its full range of motion gives you more freedom of movement. Stretching on a regular basis can help increase your range of motion.
Improved Physical Performance
Performing dynamic stretches prior to physical activities has been shown to help prepare your muscles for the activity. It may also help improve your performance during the workout/event.
Quicker Recovery Time
Stretching can increase the blood flow to your muscles, which can shorten your recovery time and reduce muscle soreness after workouts.
Muscle imbalances are common and can lead to poor posture, A combination of strengthening and stretching specific muscle groups can reduce musculoskeletal pain and encourage proper alignment. That, in turn, may help improve your posture.
Help Heal & Prevent Back Pain
Tight muscles can lead to a decrease in your range of motion. When this happens, you increase the likelihood of straining the muscles in your back. Stretching can help heal an existing back injury by stretching the muscles.
A regular stretching routine can also help prevent future back pain by strengthening your back muscles and reducing your risk for muscle strain.
When you’re experiencing stress, there’s a good chance your muscles are tense. That’s because your muscles tend to tighten up in response to physical and emotional stress. Focusing on areas of your body where you tend to hold your stress, such as your neck, shoulders, and upper back can help alleviate some of the stress.
Regular stretching can help calm your mind. It gives you time to focus on mindfulness and breathing exercises, which gives your mind a mental break.
How to get started?
Stretching once today won't magically give you perfect flexibility. It’s probably taken you many months to get tight muscles, so you're not going to be perfectly flexible after one or two stretch sessions. It takes weeks to months to get flexible, and you'll have to continue working on it to maintain it.
Before your workout perform 5 minutes of dynamic stretching (stretching on the move) to increase your blood flow and warm your muscles up.
After your workout, when the muscles are more pliable and amenable to change, perform 5-10 minutes of static stretches to help improve your flexibility.
Focus on the main muscles in the body, hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, back, shoulder and chest. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds. Don't bounce, just hold it still (static). You'll feel tension during a stretch, but you shouldn’t feel pain. If you do, there may be an injury or damage in the tissue, so stop stretching that muscle and give it a rest.
For a walkthrough of a good warm up and cool down stretching programme watch my video at www.youtube.com/grahamlowpt