Why is stretching so important?
Let's get flexible
Many of us have questions on this one... should I stretch before exercise? What happens if I skip my cool-down? Should I be stretching every day? Most of us have felt the difference, but here are a few reasons why it is so crucial and how to incorporate stretching safely into your workouts.
In order to have healthy, flexible, and strong muscles, stretching is a must. Especially as many of us spend so much time sitting in chairs all day. Flexible muscle equal flexible joints and vice versa. This is so important for range of motion to avoid injury and to prepare the body for negative effects of ageing. We should be stretching daily! No matter if we exercise or not. It might sound overwhelming, but not if you start small. You do not have to stretch all your muscles in one day, you can do certain groups one day and other groups on another. In order to maintain flexibility, stretching must occur frequently. No need to overwhelm yourself with a new 30 minute regimen each day, work up to it. Do 5-15 minutes as many days of the week you can. Try to incorporate one day that you do longer, deeper stretching. Tip: sign up for one of our Yin Yoga classes and let our teachers guide you.
This is normally where people are pretty good about stretching, but how are they doing it? I believe that most the time we see people stretching cold. Now, what does that mean? This is when you stretch the body without an activity or blood flowing to the muscles first. This is actually harmful! Muscles that are a little warmed are more pliable and do not damage as easily. Try and get in about 5-10 minutes of light activity, even a brisk walk! Stretching before exercise is great for injury prevention. Hold that stretch for 30 seconds, no bouncing (that can lead to injury), and enjoy a more flexible workout.
As we exercise, our body builds up lactic acid. Especially in high intensity exercise, the body cannot process this lactic acid which leads to fatigue and muscle soreness. Stretching drastically improves the fatigue felt the next day, leading to easier back to back training. It also allows for circulation and heart rate to normalise. It is easy to feel the physical benefits of stretching after exercise, but it also gives the chance for a psychological rejuvenation. Stretching during a cool down allows for a mind-body connection to reevaluate the workout and the areas of the body that were worked the most.
Article written by Maddie Grobe