/ by Judy Thureson
5 Benefits of Stretching Starting a new workout routine – like many tend to do at the beginning of the year – involves many exciting steps. Setting a schedule, buying new gear and testing out different protein shakes and supplements are all motivators to get you into the gym and on your way to achieving your fitness goals. But there’s one step that many people tend to overlook – stretching. Incorporating different stretches into your routine before and after the workout is crucial in ensuring you are getting the best results out of the different exercises you’re doing. Without taking the time to stretch, the risk of injury and discomfort only grows larger as you continue your journey. Here are some additional benefits to consider.
1. Increased mobility One of the most well-known facts about stretching is that it physically lengthens the muscles, increasing flexibility. The more malleable your muscles get, the more you are able to press, lift and move through your workouts. This will also allow you to move through everyday activities with ease, like lifting groceries or cleaning the house.
2. Improved posture Spending an entire workday slouched over the computer can have negative effects on your vertebrae and specific muscle groups can also shorten over a prolonged period of time in hunched positions. Luckily, certain stretches encourage proper spinal alignment and help reverse painful curvatures. Poses like standing forward fold (where you fold your body over to reach for the ground or legs) provide full body relief as it stretches the hamstrings, releases tension in the shoulders and opens up the hips. Improving your posture will also ensure that you are executing specific moves in correct form, decreasing the risk of injury.
3. Good preparation If you’re ready to graduate from brisk walks and light weights to exercises that are more intense, stretching is vital in preparing your muscles for impact. Loosening up the muscle before launching into an extreme workout will allow your body to better handle the stress of whatever movements you are doing. An in-depth, at least 10-minute stretch session is recommended before long-distance running, heavy lifting and CrossFit exercises.
4. Shortened recovery time Opening up your range of motion helps strengthen muscles, therefore reducing any tightness or swelling that follows a workout. Stretching actually increases circulation and reduces the buildup of lactic acid, allowing your body to recover faster. Without proper blood flow, you are more likely to experience Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS for short, which includes severe tenderness, fatigue and weakness of the muscles. This can put a dent in your workout schedule and halt progress while you are waiting to feel better.
5. Stress relief Oftentimes, stress manifests itself physically in the tightening of muscles. Think of the tension you hold in your neck and shoulders when in a strenuous situation. Pain is sure to follow if that physical pressure isn’t released, which is why stretching is vital to stress relief. Slowly stretching, massaging and tending to those at-risk muscles can have a similar, positive effect on mental health as it does on muscles, as the tension slowly dissipates.
Judy Thureson has a genuine desire to see people live their most authentic life. In the last decade, she has helped clients focus on their mental, physical, and spiritual health. Judy has numerous certifications but is extremely passionate about teaching the Lagree method as Lead Trainer at The Body Lab in Phoenix, AZ. The Body Lab with locations in Arcadia and Desert Ridge is a hardcore, Pilates-style workout that includes exercises on a machine called a MegaFormer. Visit http://thebodylabus.com/ for more information.