Today’s Trainer Tip is about the importance of stretching. We all know that we should stretch as a part of our fitness routines. When? How? What do I do? These questions are often the reason why so many people avoid stretching.
Before you go any further, here are two stretch series from the VCNfitness youtube channel:
This one is appropriate for beginners:
This one is a little more advanced:
What is the benefit of stretching?
Stretching keeps the muscles and joints flexible, strong, and healthy. Without it the muscles shorten and become tight which can cause weakness which puts you at risk for joint injuries.
Tips for safe and effective stretching:
1. Stretching IS NOT a warmup. Stretching cold muscles can cause injury. You may want to stretch before a workout, but you should always warm-up BEFORE stretching…start with a walk or a jog for 5-10 minutes at a low intensity first, then stretch if you must prior to working out.
2. Stretch symmetrically. Perform equal stretches for equal amounts of time on both sides of the body, regardless of how flexible you are or are not from side to side.
3. Focus on your major muscle groups: calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes, hips, lower back, and shoulders.
4. Keep your stretches static. DO NOT bounce. Deep breathe into each stretch for about 15-30 seconds with each exhalation try to relax deeper into the stretch.
5. Pain is NOT a good sign. Only stretch to the point of slight tension and discomfort. Pain is an indication that you have gone too far.
6. Be consistent and stretch regularly. The effect and benefits are cumulative.
If you have never been very flexible, you will likely never be stretchy like a gymnast. But with consistent stretching you can improve upon your current status. Add 5-10 minutes of stretching to the end of your workouts and make a point of doing this regularly. You can be strong AND flexible...they are not mutually exclusive. In fact, having good mobility can help you to increase your strength, will help prevent injury, and give you longevity as an athlete. Begin today, it is never too late. Utilize the routines I have posted above, in their entirety to for the specific muscle groups you are training each day.