Many people make a simple mistake when they are beginning their fitness journey. They focus on strength training or they go for long runs, but they forget a very important part of fitness: stretching.
Most fitness gurus advocate stretching, yet many individuals forget to include it in their daily routines. They often have excuses revolving around not knowing how to stretch, not needing it or not being flexible enough. The truth is, even if your main fitness goal is to lift heavy weight, it’s hard to overemphasize the importance of stretching.
For weight lifters, runners, swimmers, or any kind of athlete, stretching is an importance practice that must be included in the training schedule. And stretching is not just for elite athletes. Even if you’re just starting your fitness journey, you should be including some stretching in your workouts.
Let’s talk about what happens if you don’t stretch. You’ve been going to the gym for a few months, lifting weight, and getting stronger. But one day, your back hurts. You lean over to touch your toes and realize you can’t! Then a few days later, you’re carrying a box up the stairs and you slip.
As you fall, you feel a horrible pain in your leg: you’ve pulled your hamstring. What could have prevented this injury? Stretching. Let’s talk about what happens if you don’t stretch. You’ve been going to the gym for a few months, lifting weight, and getting stronger. But one day, your back hurts.
You lean over to touch your toes and realize you can’t! Then a few days later, you’re carrying a box up the stairs and you slip. As you fall, you feel a horrible pain in your leg: you’ve pulled your hamstring. What could have prevented this injury? Stretching.
After a workout, the importance of stretching becomes even more obvious. If you stretch after a workout, you increase blood flow and nutrient supplies to your muscles. This will help you recover quickly and alleviate soreness.
Stretching also helps improve your posture. Most of us work at a desk job. While that job might be good for your wallet, all that sitting is very bad for your body. Your glute muscles can atrophy, your posture will slouch over, and you might end up with chronic pain. Including some light stretching routines in your day will help you avoid these problems.
Now that you know why you should stretch, your next questions is probably, how and when should I stretch? Previously, people thought it was important to stretch before a workout, but modern research suggests otherwise. Stick to a dynamic 5 to 10 minute warm up before a work out, and save the stretching for later.
After you finish your workout, spend 10 minutes stretching the muscles that you used. It doesn’t have to be intense, and you don’t need to stretch every muscle in your body. Focus on the large muscle groups, and any muscle that you trained.
Once a week, it is a good idea to attend a yoga class, or spend 45 to 60 minutes focusing on stretching. This will help increase your overall flexibility and strength, and allow you to be more effective during all your workouts later in the week.
The importance of stretching is something that everyone should focus on. Stretching helps you to remain healthy and avoid injuries. Including stretching in your weekly workouts will increase your mobility and help you recover faster.
After each workout, spend a short amount of time stretching out the big muscle groups, then once a week, spend a longer time stretching out all the kinks and pains in your body. You won’t see the results immediately, but stick with it and after a month or two, you’ll notice a big difference in your flexibility!
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