Stretching your way to fitness
Today’s post is going to focus on stretching and the importance of it. I used to never stretch and the severity of this wsa revealed to me when I got injured with a grade 2 groin strain in January. It saw me out of rowing for the semester and out of cardio for weeks. It was painful and incredibly frustrating. Since then, I’ve ensured I fit in a stretching session after every single workout. I’ve noticed it’s helped my recovery and it feels good being able to touch the ground without feeling like something is going to snap.
Again, this information has been collected from research I’ve done and things I’ve stumbled across on Pinterest, Twitter etc.
- Stretching helps your range of motion. It reduces muscle tenion and tightness, two things which reduce muscle function.
- It can improve posture. Tight muscles will pull your body out of shape. For example, tight chest mucles pull out shoulders and head forward which gives us a hunched look. By stretching your muscles your releasing the tension and allowing your body to move more freely and allows you to have better posture.
- It can help your calm down. Stretching is good for relaxation and the release of tension can be both physical and mental when stretching. When stretching practice deep breathing and clearing the mind. It’s amazing how relaxing it can be.
Something that surprised me was the complex lack of consensus regarding stretching and injury prevention. Some sources say it doesn’t do a thing to prevent injury, for example, Jillian Michaels whilst other argue differently, such as the article in Lifehacker. I believe it has benefits of reducing muscle tension, which allows increased range of motion which may prevent you overstretching it doing simple tasks. So I think it can indirectly help.
When stretching it’s important to hold it for a good 20 seconds, otherwise you won’t see benefits particularly quickly. Also focusing on the areas you worked most during that particular workout to ensure they get the best stretches.
The Mayo Clinic has a great slide show on stretching safely and gives advice on basic stretches to start incorporating into your workout. I discovered some really useful ones by attending some pilates classes also.
Have a happy Saturday everyone! Last weekend in November, almost time to get pumped for Christmas!