I gotta be honest here people, for the longest time I would skip the stretching component of my workouts.
I figured I was busy and it wasn’t that important! I’m an active person surely my continued movement post workout would be enough of a cool down . . . it’s as good as stretching, right?
For the longest time I suffered with chronic knee pain. It was so intense it would keep me awake at night. At the time I had no idea why my knees were hurting so badly, but thought it best if I took a few weeks off exercise to give them a chance to recover.
In my time of rest I thought I would give myself a few days a week to work on stretching. Now, I have no patience when it comes to stretching on my own. Really . . . its terrible. Anyway, no patience . . . so I find it best to follow along with a DVD if I can’t make it to a yoga or stretch class.
Within a week of doing 3 extended stretch classes my knees felt to much better. No longer keeping me awake at night and I actually felt strong enough to start training again.
It was enough to open my eyes to the important of stretching. Really even just 5-10 mins at the end of your workout. Totally worth it.
Why is stretching so important?
– Well, stretching releases synovial fluid which is stored in your joints. What this fluid does is lubricate all of your joints, which in turn protects them from friction and injury. Awesome right?
– Stretching will also help to bring increased blood supply to your muscles which will improve your endurance. Improved endurance means you won’t tire as easily during your workouts. Love that!
– Stretching should also be used as a way to warm up your muscles as it increases blood flow, which will then provide your muscles with an increased oxygen supply (as well as many other nutrients) required to help them to keep going throughout your workout.
– Stretching has also proven to be a useful way to alleviate pain. Which I can attest to 100%.
– Also, if your aiming to build some lean muscle then stretching is extra important because it will enable you to move through your full range of motion with greater ease. This will then help you to build full and long muscles instead of them becoming stunted and short. Long and lean . . . yes please!
– Not only will stretching increase the range of motion while performing exercise, it will also help to increase range of motion and flexibility in general which will in turn make your activities of daily living much easier.
– Stretching will also help to keep your muscles and tendons nice and limber which can help prevent a pulled muscle or tendon. If your more flexible in general then the chances of your having an accident resulting in a pulled or torn muscle because your body is capable of reaching that position.
Seriously whats not to love?
And that’s not to mention the relaxation and quiet time of meditation you can also get while you are stretching. Bliss I tell you, b-l-i-s-s.
There are a few different types of stretching you can do but I won’t get all technical on you. I just strongly encourage you to get out there and give it a read hot go. Even if its just 10 mins. Totally worth it.
A few tips to keep in mind while your stretching if your doing it at home (or in a gym) on your own –
– Breathe slowly, deeply, evenly
– Stretching should never be painful, a little uncomfortable is ok but painful . . . no deal
– Concentrate on relaxing the area being stretched, visualise the muscle letting go or any discomfort and tension as your exhale.
If you, like me struggle to stretch on your own I highly recommend you invest in a few good quality yoga/stretch DVDs. My favourites are TurboFire Stretch 40 – seriously I have used this DVD so much it would have been worth the investment of the total workout program just for this one DVD. I know I totally got my money’s worth out of it anyway.
My other favourite is P90X Stretch – heaven!
Or look around for a yoga class you can join at a gym or rec center close by.
You are worth the extra time and effort. Your body will thank you for it 🙂