Can you touch your toes from a standing position (without bending you knees!)?
Go on, try it now – I’ll wait.
So, if you can, well done but read on because you’ll find some useful points in this post and if you can’t, then definitely read on!
Stretching is, without doubt, the most neglected part of people’s exercise regime in my opinion; at the end of every session with my clients we go through a cooldown and stretching routine together but I just know that they don’t do it regularly enough when they train on their own.
You shouldn’t just stretch at the end of your workout but at the beginning too, although at the start of your workout the stretches should be dynamic rather than static.
Dynamic Stretches prepare the body for the exercise you are about to do as they warm up and mobilise the body correctly prior to exercise. In this short video you can see me go through aspects of a dynamic warm up for running, but these warm up exercises and dynamic stretches can be applied to a lot of exercise routines.
Post Workout Stretches
You should always allow time at the end of your workout for stretching both for the body and the mind and you should always hold each stretch for at least 45 secs.
Here are just 7 reasons to stretch after your workout :
- Increased flexibility in your muscles
- Increased range of motion in your joints
- Improved posture by helping to lengthen muscles
- Increased blood and nutrient flow to muscles thus helping to reduce the risk of injury
- Reduced muscle soreness in the days following a tough workout
- Improved performance for your next workout as your muscles will repair more quickly
- A relaxed mind and body at the end of your exercise session
Have I missed any?? Please let me know
Specific Stretch Sessions
Don’t just leave your stretching to 5-10 mins at the end of your workout, you should aim to build in a regular session into your exercise routine.
A lot of gyms now offer specific stretch classes on their regular class timetable and you should also aim to take a Pilates or Yoga class on a regular basis although I am very much aware that both these disciplines are about much more than just stretching of course.
Attending regular classes of this nature will improve flexibilty and strength in the muscles as well as range of motion through the joints as well as giving you some time to slow down and mentally focus a little more on your muscles and your body’s movement.
So, if your current levels of flexibility are similar to the photo at the beginning of this post, set yourself a target, over the next 6 weeks to be a little more like the photo at the end of this post………