You worked out hard and now you are sore, so it is time to stretch, right? Wrong (or at least not 100% accurate.) Stretching is not only for post workout activity, it is a workout on its own. We tend to neglect stretching and flexibility. Whether it is because it is boring or doesn’t burn calories, we might stretch 3 minutes at the end of class and that is it. Here are a few reasons why you should dedicate more time for this workout (and yes, stretching is a workout) :
Improve range of motion - remember the saying “ if you don’t use it you lose it” ? That is the case with range of motion. If you limit the range of which your joints go through in your daily activities, that is the range of motion you will have.
Helps relieve post exercise pain, you will still feel the soreness but for less time.
Promotes circulation- stretch and relaxed muscle allow better blood flow, therefore more nutrients reach the muscles.
Reduce the risk of
low back pain- When your hamstring, hip flexors and lower back muscles are stretched your lower back gains more mobility.
Reduce the risk of injury- stretched muscles can do more and tolerate more abuse before they injure.
So now that you know that it is important and will benefit you, HOW do you stretch? Here are a few guidelines and a short routine (remember that it is always better to consult a physician before engaging a new exercise routine).
Before you stretch, warm up your body and try to be loose and relaxed.
Perform each stretch at least twice
Hold each stretch at least 15 to 30 seconds (work towards a full minute)
It should NOT be painful, when you are in the stretch it should be slightly uncomfortable.
When you stretch, get into the stretch and stay there, gradually increase the stretch, don’t move fast.
Think of your muscle as a rubber band apply gradual force.
After your muscles are warmed up do the following stretches:
Forward fold- keep your knees straight and fold forward reach down towards your ankles.
Seated hamstring stretch- seat with straight legs and fold forward, round your back. You can place a strap around the feet and pull on that.
Trunk rotation - laying on your back, bent the knees and drop them to the right, rotate your upper body to the left. Do both sides.
Laying down quadriceps stretch- lay on your side bent the top leg and pull it backwards, to enhance the stretch try to engage your quad and kick against the hand. Do the other side.
Child pose- kneel down and push your butt towards the heels and reach forward with your hands.
This is a short sequence that address mostly your lower body, it is a good place to start.
I know that doing it 3 times a day is a stretch, so start with once a day….