Are you in the habit of skipping the final 5-minute stretch of your workout to get a head start in the showers? Your strength training and cardio routine is paying off, your diet is on point, and you’re feeling great about your progress. But one day you wake up with slight back pain. You try to work through it, but the aching or sharp pain doesn’t seem to subside. You begin to stretch out your injury, realising that mobility work is the key to injury prevention as you begin wishing you had integrated a stretching routine from the beginning.
It’s easy to overlook the important stretch session as the results are not as easily visible as the results of strength training or cardio. Stretching is the key to protecting our mobility and independence throughout life. After a weight lifting session, the tension caused by the shortening of the muscle fibres will result in a tight and sore feeling. Stretching increases the blood and nutrient supplies to muscles, and therefore reducing muscle soreness. Additionally, stretching elongates the muscles, limbering up the muscles and surrounding tendons and therefore preventing injuries.
For those working in office jobs, stretching is even more vital to health and wellbeing. By spending most of the day in the same seated position with the same posture, we are overusing and fatiguing certain muscles making them shorter and tighter. As a result, adhesions will begin forming on connective tissue, decreasing flexibility, circulation and increases your chances of injury, aches and pains.
So why is stretching so important? Aside from the Increasing your range of motion, stretching will improve muscle development, meaning you’ll get more out of your strength training sessions. Another benefit of stretching is the increase in muscular coordination and stamina. The stretching and loosening of muscles and tendons will increase blood flow to the muscles in use, relieving muscle fatigue and improving overall health as better blood circulation will encourage improved cell growth and organ function. Stretching will also correct poor posture habits, as the lengthening of tight muscles around the spine, chest and shoulders will create better alignments and relieve aches and pains.
The best way to stretch: Set aside the final 5-10 minutes of your workout to stretch the muscles you just trained. At the first sensation of resistance, hold the stretch and breath through it for about 30 seconds. Move in slow motion to change stretch positions. Do not push your body farther than it will go. Simply hold onto that feeling of resistance between feeling comfortable and uncomfortable.