Stretching is an important component in achieving your fitness goals. It has been a common topic of conversation in my fitness studio lately so I wanted to talk about the benefits of stretching with all my readers.
Sometimes it feels so good, and sometimes it isn’t always pleasant. Stretching alone can even cause you to work up a sweat! I’ve recently started to increase the amount of stretching I do in the studio with my clients because of the benefits of stretching.
Stretching can be incredibly beneficial to your body as well as your physical fitness routine. By stretching regularly, you can improve flexibility, increase range of motion, and speed up recovery. The more range of motion you have, the more effective the workout can be. The faster your body can recover, the faster you reach your goals!
Tight muscles can prevent you from maintaining proper alignment and posture. This makes it hard to target certain muscle groups. For example, when your chest, shoulders, and neck muscles are tight, your shoulders round forward so much that it is hard to find and engage your lats, which help with stabilizing your scapula during arm movement. Another example is when your hip flexors are tight, it’s hard to release your lower back and engage your core.
If you start today and stretch daily on your own as well as when you workout with me, you will see amazing improvements. You will feel more comfortable with assuming the proper positions for workouts, and feel the target muscles engaging more effectively.
Here’s how to stretch on your own:
Stretching should be done everyday in order to show improvement. It will take time to notice a difference, so be patient and stay consistent with your stretching!
During your lunch breaks at work or anytime during the day, go for a quick walk, do 15 squats, and then stretch for 5 minutes.
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. This is a lubrication for your joints and keeps them healthy. Don’t worry about how low you are going in your squat, this is just movement for your joints and to get blood circulation in your legs. After you walk around your house or the office, do up to 15 squats and then do 5 stretches. This walk/squat/stretch break (WSS BREAK) will take you less than 10 minutes. If you do this a couple times a day, you are golden!
Try these 5 stretches and hold each stretch for 30 seconds on each side.
Calve stretch: Facing a wall, lean up against a wall with your hands holding your body weight. Take one foot back and stretch the calve my pressing your heel toward the floor. Hold for 30 seconds and switch legs.
Hip Flexor Stretch: Stand with your legs staggered (one foot a couple feet in front of the other at hip width apart), and bend the front knee while pressing the opposite hip forward. You will get a stretch in your hip flexor. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Glute Stretch: Cross one foot over the opposite knee and lean forward while bending the supporting leg. You can do this while standing and holding onto something or while sitting on a chair. Hold for 30 seconds and switch legs.
Hamstring stretch: lay on your back with one foot in a Pilates Ring, Band, or you can even use your belt. Straighten both legs. One leg should be directly in the air and the other on the floor. Hold for 30 and switch legs.
IT Band Stretch: Assume the same position as #4, but grab the ring, band or belt with the opposite hand of the leg that is in the air and slightly cross the leg over the center line of your body. Keep your hip connected to the floor and your legs straight. Hold for 30 and switch legs.
Along with increased flexibility, range of motion, and faster recovery through improved circulation, stretching can be therapeutic. It actually releases tension in your body, resulting in reduced physical stress. Your body can move more freely when your muscles aren’t tight, which makes everyday movement feel a lot easier and more enjoyable.