The benefits of daily exercise are well known, however the benefits of a regular stretching routine are far less known.
I used to avoid stretching. It was the last thing I wanted to do after a hard workout or before. After a busy day I just wanted to get my workout done and would skip stretching to save time. This was a big mistake. A mistake made by many and here is why:
a) Increases blood flow to the muscles; this will bring nutrients to the muscles and therefore speed up recovery of sore muscles.
b) Warms up the muscles causing the muscles to be more flexible and decreasing the risk of soft tissue injury, strains and sprains.
c) Increased flexibility will contribute to better balance and coordination
d) Helps to keep spine in alignment which will increase good posture
e) Allows the organs of the body to work more efficiently
a) Decreases stress. When we are stressed we tense up our muscles that can lead to headaches and back aches. Stretching can alleviate these issues.
b) Calms the mind. Just 10-15 minutes of stretching can help to relax the body and mind
c) Allows the mind to take a break and re-charge, increasing mental focus.
Now you know the importance and benefits of stretching – HOW do you stretch? WHAT do you stretch? There are many options, and it is important to do what fits best into your schedule.
Before Exercise- Do a short warm up to get the heart pumping and blood flowing, such as short jog, or 30 jumping jacks. Follow with 10-15 minutes of stretching starting with your big muscles and joints in your legs and hips. You can use both dynamic and static stretches to maximize your stretches. From there you can move into your shoulders, arms and core.
After Exercise- During your cool down after exercise, compete a short series of stretches 10-15 minutes to prevent the muscles you worked from tightening up too quickly. Use this time to get deeper into the stretch.
Some people set a side 1-2 days a week for an hour session of just stretching. There are several options available. You can do on your own or look for some classes offered at your local gym. I am finally starting to get into yoga! Whatever you choose to do, make sure to include stretching in your daily routine – your body and mind will thank you!