This is a short post to revisit the importance of stretching. Why? People are training harder than usual this time of year to whip their bodies into ‘beach mode’ for the upcoming holiday season, so here’s a little reminder of why not to overlook your stretches and why it’s so important! Just by stretching for a few minutes after each session, you’ll see and feel actual, real-life benefits. Check out my favourite 5 (of many) reasons why it’s the way forward, and a few added stretch ‘idea’ photographs to get you started, all shot at the gorgeous Kasbah Tamadot, Morocco, wearing Lululemon and Autumn Cashmere. MORE…
1) RETAIN MUSCLE BALANCE: By failing to stretch after workouts, you will (over time) start to experience problems with posture and suffer muscle imbalances. In this day and age, it’s not that rare for a person to sit at a desk for 10 hours straight, only breaking to get coffee. Some muscles will naturally become tighter and others weaker. For example, the hip flexors will be in a mildly contracted state whilst seated, and after a while the hip flexor can tilt the pelvis forward, causing the spine to round, which leads to pack pain. It’s worth just stretching out your body for just a few minutes everyday – the pelvis, hip flexor, back, neck and shoulders to help your body stay conditioned, ready for another day of hardcore chair-sitting.
2) ENSURE FUTURE MOBILITY: As you get older stretching will keep you mobile whilst reducing the risk of injury. Britain is effectively an ageing population of sedentary office workers, which is an orthopaedic epidemic waiting to happen! Stretch to avoid being part of the ‘cast & crew’ 😀
3) REDUCE SORENESS: After a big workout your muscles will remain in a slightly-contracted state, which is especially true after an aggressive ‘get me in beach shape NOW’ kind of workout. The best way to accelerate your recovery and avoid too much of the the dreaded DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) is to stretch liberally afterwards. It will elongate and soften the muscle fibres, which will help re-condition you for your future training as well.
4) ENCOURAGE SUPPLE FLEXIBILITY: A good stretch will improve the range of motion of a joint by stretching out the surrounding soft tissue (i.e. muscles tendons & ligaments).
5) KEEP YOU UPRIGHT!: Hilariously, stretching regularly helps to stop you from falling over, as by increasing the range of motion in your joints, it has been clinically demonstrated to help improve our ability to balance!
RANDOM SHOT OF ME IN A ‘BERBER’ TENT FOR NO REASON…
‘WHAT TYPES OF STRETCHING CAN I DO ???’ you ask…
1) Dynamic Stretching – always warm up for 5-10 minutes (to help your muscles prepare for the onslaught) and then include the dynamic form of stretching. It simply means ‘stretching whilst moving’. The stretches shouldn’t be held for more than 3-10 seconds each for example – front-to-back leg swings, knee-hugs, quad-holds, hand-walks, arm swings, walking lunges, lunging-and-reaching, etc.
2) Static Stretching – to be performed after your workout, they are supposed to be held far longer for 10-30 seconds (or more). They may feel slightly uncomfortable, which is perfect, so long as they don’t feel painful. Try to avoid bouncing whilst holding a static stretch, as it’s not meant to be forced; slowly and over time lengthen and relax the muscle.
So enjoy a more supple tomorrow, and the unrestricted use of your limbs in 50 years time! Faya x
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