Why Stretch

Stretching-Whether you have time or not, there are an enormous amount of benefits to stretching, but many people would rather squeeze in another exercise than carve out even 5 minutes to stretch muscles, joints and recover faster. 

Being a personal trainer and running coach, I’ve dealt with hundreds of clients from all walks of life and all ages, and I leave room in our workout to stretch. Before each session, we do what’s called a dynamic warm-up to fire up the major muscle groups used in the training.  After, we spend at least 5-10 minutes stretching, which should be more, but anything is better than nothing. There are times I need reminding but because they’ve been told over and over again by me the importance of doing so, we fit it in.

The question is are my clients stretching on their own? I encourage them to make the time even if it’s later in the day at least 3-4 times. According to Rachelle Read, Ph.D, people would benefit from doing more than that and even several times a day, which could include rolling. 

What you need to know about it: according to many researchers, kinesiologists, and physical therapists stretching: increases your range of motion and flexibility because you are elongating the muscles; it loosens the joints, reduces the risk of injury, decreases feelings of stress (you put your body through oxidative stress every time you exercise), helps with overcoming fatigue, reduces anxiety, improves feelings of energy, encourages mindfulness and positivity. For athletes, it enhances performance 10-fold. For me, it’s an upgrade to my body. I feel more relaxed and can move better through each exercise. As an older runner, I have less aches and pains after. As a matter of fact, I haven’t experienced any injuries or extreme tightness for over two years, whereas before, my body would need regular breaks due to set-backs that could have been avoided if I just took the time to stretch. 

What two types are recommended for every workout: First is dynamic stretching to warm-up the body. In other words, you move through several range of motion exercises to wake up all the major muscle groups used in training increasing body temperature. Static stretching is for after holding each stretch for 10-30 seconds. It should be done easily moving muscles and joints gently and progressively to a point of slight tension then release. If you get to a point of pain, you’ve pushed it too far, so put the brakes on. Use the concept of progression, so overtime, the more flexible you become, the more you can push past your original threshold point with the stretch.

To sum it all up, stretching reduces muscle tension, inflammation, pain and sore areas. In the end, you feel relaxed, less stressed, and happy that you did the workout in the first place.