Have you ever watched a dog or a baby wake up from a nap? The first thing they do is stretch. And they stretch a lot. I think they might have something to teach us inflexible people, wouldn’t you say?
This month for our healthy resolution we are going to focus on stretching more. I think stretching is often forgotten (sometimes on purpose) because it is more in the category of preventive care than actual exercise that gets result. However, failing to stretch can lead to so many unfortunate problems down the road. So let’s start today to prevent those unnecessary injuries and body aches that we assume are normal. They don’t have to be!
Studies have argued that stretching doesn’t necessarily ease muscle soreness, but it does help with other aspects of health. Here are just some of the benefits:
– Helps you to have better posture
– Increases blood flow throughout the body and especially to the brain
– By stretching the spine regularly it can prevent tight neck, shoulder and chest muscles
– It can improve athletic performance
– Increases joint mobility, which can decrease chance of injury
– It can help ease your mind and help you relax after a stressful day
– Helps increase blood and nutrient supply to joints and muscles
Now before you just start stretching right now (I know you want to) you should know a few things:
– Don’t stretch when your muscles are cold. People used to say to stretch before and workout, but really you should do a warm-up and then stretch, then workout. Or skip the stretching before the workout and save if for the end when your muscles are plenty warm and somewhat tight.
– Be sure to stretch both sides of a joint. For example if you stretch your quad, be sure to stretch your hamstring which is behind it. Or if you stretch your chest, also stretch your back.
– Avoid bouncing! Ease into a stretch and then hold it for 10-15 seconds while taking deep breaths. It shouldn’t be painful…it should just feel like a slight pull in the muscle to stretch it.
– Find a way to be consistent with it to get the most out of it. Like most things, doing it regularly will provide the most benefits.
– Try doing some yoga or pilates to involve movement with stretching. Moving your body and muscles into stretches helps deepen the stretch and reach muscles you wouldn’t normally reach.
So…who’s ready to stretch with me this month?!