Do you always stretch at the end of your workout? Stretching can often be missed, especially if you’re short on time (an extra round of Bicep Curls is much more beneficial, right?!) but did you know stretching is just as crucial as the workout itself?
Why is stretching good for you?
Stretching can help improve your flexibility, mobility and improve your posture. Along with exercise, stretching is the best way to keep your muscles stronger and reducing wear and tear on the joints. Here’s why stretching is so good for you:
- Improves flexibility. Regular stretching keeps the muscles strong and healthy and increases flexibility, enabling us to carry out everyday tasks with ease.
- Improves mobility. Stretching delays the mobility issues that are associated with aging such as difficulty walking, getting up and down from a chair and general day to day tasks. This can lead to other health problems such as incontinence and urinary tract infections (when it is not easy to get to the bathroom) as well as skin soreness and infections. Loss of mobility is detrimental to your mental well-being and can lead to depression as you become more dependent on others, leaving you feeling isolated as you can no longer get out and about on your own, whether that’s shopping, getting to appointments or meeting friends.
- Improves range of motion. Regular stretching helps you to achieve the full range of motion through your joints, allowing you the freedom to move how you choose.
- Improves blood circulation. Regular stretching increases the blood flow to your muscles which helps to reduce DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) as well as reducing recovery time.
- Optimises your workouts. Stretching regularly can improve your workouts, meaning that you get better results from them.
- Corrects bad posture. You will see an improvement in your posture when you stretch and strengthen specific muscles and make them work how they are supposed to so that they can keep everything properly aligned. Stretching also relieves tension in the back enabling you to stand taller and straighter.
- Reduces stress. Muscles tend to tighten up when we are stressed and stretching is a great way to release tension in tight muscles and help you to relax. Concentrate on stretching areas where you feel ‘tight’ such as across the shoulders, neck and lower back.
As summer is round the corner and holiday season starts (woo!) why not make the most of the sun and feeling relaxed and incorporate stretching into your holiday. Enjoy the feeling of stretching on the beach or by the pool. Your body will thank you for it!
Try the following stretches and feel great whilst you’re away!
1) Seated Spinal Twist Stretch
This stretch is great for the back, hips and glutes, increasing mobility in the spine.
Sit on the floor with both legs out straight. Bend your left leg and take over the right thigh. Put your right arm on the outside of your left thigh. Rest your left hand on the floor for support. Twist to the left and hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
2) Same Side Bird Dog Stretch
This stretch works the abs, glutes and erector spinae (the muscles surrounding the spine).
It helps to improve balance and posture.
Start on all fours with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Squeeze the abs and slowly extend the right arm and leg until straight. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
3) Lying Hamstring Stretch.
This is a great stretch for the hamstrings.
Start by lying on the floor with both legs straight. Lift your head off the floor and raise your right leg, keeping a slight bend in the knee. Pull your leg towards your chest until you feel a stretch. Hold for 1 minute and repeat with the other leg.
4) Standing Lunge Stretch
This will stretch the glutes, quads and hamstrings.
Start in a lunge position with one leg in front of the other. Place your hands on the front leg and drive your hips forward until you feel a stretch in the glutes and hamstrings. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat with with other leg.
5) Triceps Stretch
This will stretch the Triceps and the lats (latissimus dorsi muscle which covers the width of the middle and lower back). It also stretches the Teres major (TM) which is a small muscle that works with the latissimus dorsi muscle to help with shoulder movement.
Start by bringing your left elbow above your head, keeping the arm bent. Using your right hand, pull the left elbow down behind your head until you feel a stretch along the back of your arm. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat with the other arm.
Only stretch as far as is comfortable and modify if necessary. You should not be feeling any pain.
Caroline & Hannah xx