The Importance of Stretching

Posted on December 2, 2009. Filed under: athletic training, beauty, body weight, caloric intake, calories, circuit training, clean eating, diet, exercise, fat loss, fitness, food, health, heart rate, lifting, overtraining, running, weight lifting, weight loss, weight training, workout, yoga |

One of the most important things you can do after a good workout is get in a good stretch. Stretching is incredibly important to help prevent muscle injuries and improve recovery. First of all the only time to stretch is when your muscles are warm, and it should be done after a warm up, pre-workout, and once again after the workout. If you attempt to stretch cold muscles you can hurt yourself, not to mention you are not getting a good stretch. Other benefits of stretching are to increase your flexibility, improve your range of joint motion, improve circulation and relieve stress. After a workout, muscles naturally contract so stretching allows your muscles to rebuild, growing bigger and stronger, and thus allowing you to get the full benefit from your workouts.

When I first started working out really hard with cardio and weight training I would wake up in the morning and feel crippled. It hurt to move and walk, then after spending time at my desk all day, after just an hour of sitting, it was painful to get up and move around because my hip flexors were so tight. So that’s when I began my quickie AM workouts. A couple of times a week I hit the elliptical for 10 – 15 minutes just to warm up my body, and then I do a good 10 minutes of stretching. This was also helpful too to jump start my metabolism and at night your body doesn’t circulate blood as well, so it helps speed up this process as well.

So start with a warm up.. jog around, do some jumping jacks, do something to loosen up and get the blood pumping. Get in a stretching position something as simple as touching your toes. It sounds simple, yet many cannot reach the floor. This will stretch your lower back as well as your hamstrings. Let your head hang heavy and do not strain in attempt to touch the ground. Breathe often and deeply simply focusing on the feeling in the backs of your hamstrings. Relax. If you do this every day you will get closer and closer to touching your toes. Hold each stretch for about 30 seconds and just breathe. There’s plenty of examples online for good stretches. One of my favorites is for the hamstring. Get into a lunge position, let’s say you have your right foot forward. Bend your right knee about 90 degrees and do not let your left knee touch the ground, but let it come close. The left knee will be an obtuse angle, stretching out your left hip flexor. To deepen the stretch lift your left arm up and overhead. Hold this for about 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. I read in Oxygen magazine once that stretching your hip flexors helps the glute muscle grow bigger too, which is just another added benefit 🙂

Yoga classes incorporate stretching into their practice. I am sure you have heard friends talk about or have tried Bikram (hot) yoga and how flexible they find themselves by the end of class. All yoga classes start off warming the body up, and before the cool down you may find yourself with your feet flat on the ground in downward facing dog because you’ve managed to stretch out the backs of your legs enough in that 60 – 90 minutes of class.

I challenge you to take 5 – 10 minutes a day to stretch. I guarantee you’ll find yourself less stiff and sore throughout the day or the following day, and if you keep it up for a few weeks you will find that you are far more flexible than you ever imagined yourself being!

Kyra Williams
The Get In Shape Girl

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2 Responses to “The Importance of Stretching”

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I never stretch and probably should start…My legs are usually the only part of my body that gets sore.

I finally made to your site . what the best nutritional diet for a big boy to start with when first start to working out over 30

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