BENEFITS OF STRETCHING
Stretching doesn’t get the respect it deserves. Taking the time to stretch is essential. And it’s especially important now. Months of quarantine, sitting at makeshift desks (aka our kitchen tables) or in Zoom calls for hours at a time can cause lower back discomfort and body stiffness. Unfortunately, many of us have limited time to exercise, so we prioritize and save time by skipping the stretch. Here’s why that’s not a good idea.
FOUR REASONS TO STRETCH
- Stretching increases flexibility and range of motion by increasing blood flow to your muscles.
- Stretching decreases your risk of injury by keeping muscles long, lean, and flexible.
- Stretching improves your performance by helping your muscles grow stronger and increase your muscles’ stamina.
- Stretching enables your muscles to work most effectively.
Stretching before your muscles are warmed up can be harmful. Instead, perform a dynamic warm-up. Dynamic warmup involves moving your body and often mimicking the movements you are about to do but slowly to get your muscles warm. Jennifer gives you that time to get your body and muscles warm and “fluid” in the water before you start your Fluid Running workout. This slow movement will help get your muscles primed and be most effective.
COOL DOWN STRETCHING
Post-workout is the best time to stretch and to bring your heart rate close to resting. This is when your muscles are warmed up and more pliable. You may find that your flexibility and range of motion is much greater in water than on land. That’s because stretching in the water removes the push of gravity on your joints. Take advantage of that to give those muscles the stretch they deserve.
Use these tips to keep stretching safe.
- Strive for Symmetry – try to achieve the same level of flexibility on both sides.
- Don’t bounce – be sure to stretch in a smooth movement. Bouncing can contribute to muscle tightness and even muscle strain.
- Hold your stretch – each stretch should be held for approximately 20 seconds or longer.
- Don’t aim for pain – expect to feel tension but never pain.
Beyond just helping your muscles, studies also show that stretching helps relieve stress, increase balance, and improve posture. Taking the time to stretch can pay off in multiple ways. Remind yourself that if you have time to exercise for 55 minutes, you have time to stretch for at least five!