As a Fitness Trainer Woodland Hills, I want to help you: Discover Stretching
Having been a dancer who, from age 4, stretched for hours every day, I was caught by surprise when recently asked, “Is it important to stretch?” I had not realized how many people did not seem to know how, when or why they should stretch!
We all come from very different backgrounds and our body mechanics can be affected by one or more of the following: adolescence, what we do for a living, our genes, whether or not we have or have had an injury, the types of activity we engage in, and how sedentary we might be. I hope this article brings to light some of the important reasons to incorporate proper stretching into your life.
Think of stretching as therapy for your body. Stretching is important as a means of preventing or treating an injury, improving performance, increasing range of motion, speeding up recovery time after a workout, and reducing stress. When stretching, make certain you are focused on what you are doing and you take it seriously. Remember, your form is just as important when stretching as it is when working out.
The best way to get the most out of anything you do is to give it your undivided attention and do it properly the first time. When finished, you will undoubtedly experience a more relaxed mind and body, similar to the affects of meditation or an endorphin rush.
When to Stretch
I recommend stretching on a daily basis. Never force a stretch, and if you feel pain of any kind, stop immediately. If you feel pain, you could be stretching too deeply. Always focusing on form and technique is your path to a productive stretch, otherwise it can be counterproductive. If you have back, neck or joint problems, always consult a physician before beginning a new stretching program.
Before a workout
Stretching before a workout, can promote proper alignment and posture during the workout. I like to stretch the opposite muscle groups of the muscles I plan to workout. This helps to increase range of motion during the exercise. For example, when I plan to work the back, I like to stretch the chest before we start working out the back muscles. This promotes better range of motion, posture, and alignment. Another example of stretching before a workout to increase range of motion during an exercise is to stretch the hamstrings before supine leg lifts. I also like to stretch the hip flexors and psoas before my core work on the reformer so that they don’t grip and pull on the lumbar spine during the core exercises.
Working your muscles through a full range of motion, can also create of Synovial fluid. This fluid lubricates the joints for ease of movement. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, or are sitting down most of the day at work, over time you are more likely to get aches and pains in your joints because of the lack of Synovial fluid (lubrication) in your joints. Walking is a wonderful dynamic stretch for your hip flexors. So, set an alarm to stand up and walk around after every hour of sitting. Squats at your desk will help create some synovial fluid in your ankles, knees, and hips. do some squats after you walk around for a bit!
After a workout
Stretching after a workout, when muscles are warm, is a safe way to increase flexibility. Take time to stretch after a workout as a way to increase circulation throughout the muscles, increase bone density, improve balance, and reduce muscle soreness.
There are times stretching will not improve performance when done before a workout, even if done after a warm-up. I suggest stretching primary muscle groups after, not before, a workout or event including heavy strength training, high intensity exercise or competitive events that require fast twitch muscles such as sprinting.
How to stretch
Dynamic stretching and static stretching are the methods I use to improve flexibility, performance, balance, circulation, posture and alignment.
Dynamic stretching is actively stretching a muscle through movement without stopping to hold a stretch (For example: second position leg press laying down on the reformer helps to open the hips and stretch the inner thighs. Another example is standing squats, which help stretch your hips and bring blood flow to your lower body muscles).
Static stretching is taking a muscle to its full range of motion and sustaining the position for a length of time and is a standard way of measuring flexibility. Holding a static stretch for 30 seconds has been proven to increase range of motion.
Stretching should be done on a regular basis (similar to exercise) in order to show improvement. It will take time to notice a difference, so be patient and stay consistent with your stretching!
Stretching should be done every day, even if you are not working out. During your lunch breaks at work or anytime during the day, go for a quick walk and then stretch for 5 minutes.
Call to schedule your first appointment with Kelly Newkirk, fitness trainer Woodland Hills! (213) 373-1348
Disclaimer: Please check with your doctor and have it cleared before beginning any new exercise or diet program. I am in no way a doctor, nutritionist, or registered dietician, my blog is opinion based and I do not claim to diagnose, treat, or cure any cause, condition or disease. All information provided is for informational purposes only; it is not medical advice and has not been approved by the FTC or FDA. Please always communicate with your doctor to make any decisions or changes regarding your health, as your doctor is the only one who knows what is right for you.