I’ll be the first to admit it. I don’t stretch enough. Although I preach the value of stretching regularly to my group fitness classes and personal training clients, when given the choice to spend my last 10 minutes in the gym on cardio, strength training or stretching, I’ll always opt for one more set of squat presses 😉
If you’ve seen me in yin yoga class, you’ll know that flexibility is not my strong suit. Forward fold, pigeon pose, seated hamstring stretch; all are torture for me.
Despite knowing the benefits of stretching, I simply don’t do it enough.
Why stretch, you ask? Besides the obvious, ‘it feels good’, here are five benefits of stretching more frequently:
- improved range of motion. Want to be able to kick higher? Throw harder? Run faster? Increasing your range of motion at knee, hip and shoulder joints can improve the speed and power of your every day (and sports-specific) movements. Joints with limited range of motion tend to get stiffer and tighter over time, eventually limiting mobility and independence.
- better circulation. Stretching increases blood flow to your muscles. Better blood flow means faster flushing of post-workout waste products out of the muscle tissues and more rapid recovery between workouts.
- improved posture. Muscles work in pairs to help you maintain proper posture. Muscle tightness on one side of the body results in over-stretched (and often weak) muscles on the opposite side. To improve posture, stretch tight muscles and strengthen their over-stretched counterparts.
- pain and injury prevention. Lower back pain is often a direct result of tightness in the hamstrings, hips and glutes. Tight muscles pull the pelvis out of it’s natural alignment and result in increased pressure on the lumbar spine.
- relaxation and improved mental health. Combining slow, gentle stretching with deep, regular breathing often leads to the release of relaxation and ‘happy’ hormones. Practiced just before bedtime, stretching can also act as a sleep aid; one of my favourite benefits of stretching!
Today’s #FatblasterFriday video is a guided stretch. Lasting about 8 minutes, it will guide you through a gentle, whole body stretch,.focusing on the muscles that are most commonly tight and in need of lengthening. Listen to the birds in my backyard and enjoy a few minutes of relaxation and rejuvenation with me!
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Disclaimer: Although I am a registered Personal Trainer, I am not YOUR Personal Trainer. Always adapt workouts to suit your body and fitness level. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.