Benefits of Stretching
For some stretching is a MUST and for others its a nice to have when I think about it kind of thing. Even many trainers have different ideas on whether or not stretching is a must do! So I thought I would break it down a little bit for you! What are the benefits, when is it optimal and best stretches to do and why!
So what are the benefits?
- Helps with your posture! We've all been there, slouching at our desk or at the dinner table and realized just how bad our posture can get! So stretching the muscles in your lower back, chest and shoulders can help keep your spin in alignment and therefore improve posture by relieving some of the aches and pains that come with tightness in those areas!
- Increase endurance! Stretching helps loosen your muscles which helps with blood flow and muscle fatigue. If oxygen is flowing efficiently through your bloodstream then it can help increase your endurance.
- Reduces soreness! Stretching before and after a workout gives your muscles time to relax and increase blood supply throughout your body so that your body has the nutrients to recover better.
- Decreases risk of injury! When your muscles are too tight or constricted your risk pulling or tearing something. By stretching you are able to lessen the soreness and increase flexibility to limit your chances of injury!
- Reduces stress! Stress tends to cause muscle tension and knots, so by stretching you are helping increase the blood flow to decrease all that tension. And because you are increasing blood flow you can actually help improve your mood which can reduce stress as well.
- Improves flexibility! When we limit our bodies mobility we naturally become less mobil which means if we are not stretching out those muscles, over time they will become tighter and tighter.
Dynamic Stretches vs Static Stretches
Dynamic stretching is ideal prior to working out because it increases blood flow, moves the joints fluidly and mimics the movements that will be completed during the workout. It helps prime the body and loosens it to workout more effectively. Once your body is warm post workout it is better to static stretch. Static stretching means you are holding a specific position without movement for 15-30 seconds and should feel a slight discomfort but no pain. It is ideal to stretch a minimum of 2 days a week at least!
Best stretches to start with:
Certain moves depend on what feels tight, the moves you are about to preform and your goals. However, these are great overall stretches to start with so release tension throughout the whole body, increase blood flow and flexibility as well as reduce your chance for injury! Feel free to google these if you are confused on exactly what to do!
Hamstring Stretch: Ideal for stretching your hamstrings and calves as well as lower back.
Butterfly Stretch: Great for stretching your groin, hips and inner thighs.
Figure Four Stretch: Helps stretch hips, glutes, lower back and hamstrings.
Tricep Stretch: Great for neck, back, shoulders and triceps
Arm Circles: Great for warming up and stretching shoulders, back and chest as well as biceps and triceps.
Opposite arm & Leg Kick: Helps stretch and warm up legs (especially hamstrings), lower back, shoulders and upper back.
Walking Knee Tuck: Helps warm up quads and hip flexors.
Walking Lunge with Twist: Make sure you are twisting over the leg that is out in front of you. This helps warm up your whole body, focusing on abs, lower and upper back, glutes and hamstrings.
I highly recommend trying out a yoga class if you are wanting to incorporate stretching into your routine. This is a great way to not only still get in a workout but also learn new moves and watch an instructor to make sure your form is right! This is one of my favorite weekly classes I attend for sure :)