Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Importance of Stretching, Part 1

I am having a work in kind of week.

My body is telling me that it wants to move, but in a low-impact kind of way.

It is not feeling the weight training this week, but wants yoga, pilates and stretching.  I am listening.

Stretching is so important and we often neglect it in favour of just a little more cardio or we tell ourselves we will do it later.

How many of you, after a fitness class or a training session, really goes home and stretches?

Some of you, maybe.  But I would be willing to bet that many of you do not.

Why should we stretch?
  • To improve flexibility
  • To increase blood circulation to the muscles
  • To relax the muscles
  • To reduce the chance of injury
  • To reduce muscle tightness and soreness after training

When should we stretch?
Muscles are best stretched when they are warm.  Before you workout, do a 5 minute warm up that includes dynamic stretches.

Then, you can include some static stretches depending on your activity and the level of intensity you will be working at.

After your workout is the most important time to stretch for all the reasons listed above.  Stretch out all of the body parts that you used in your workout and focus on breathing deeply.

How long?
Hold your stretches for 30-60 seconds (or longer) and devote 10-15 minutes to complete your stretch, if time permits.  Better still, incorporate 1-2 days a week of longer stretching sessions.

I post more about stretching next week in Part 2 and take you step-by-step through some of my favourite exercises.

Do you incorporate stretching into your workout?  Why or why not?
Stay Healthy,

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