Not many people consider stretching to be important, probably because it is something we do without making a big effort. Learn everything about the importance of stretching.
The secret often lies in the simplest of things. At the end of the day, it's all about keeping our muscles active and healthy and firing up our metabolism.
Flexibility is achieved by including stretching sessions in our regular training. It helps us increase mobility and promotes the development of muscle mass.
This gentle form of exercise can help you stay healthy and fit and is good for both your body and mind.
Benefits of stretching regularly
1- Stretching increases flexibility
Professional trainers have always insisted that we give much importance to stretching, both before and after training sessions. Stretching increases the flexibility of the body and reduces the risk of injuries. What does your cat or dog do right after they wake up? They stretch. In fact, you will see all animals stretching several times a day, and there is a good reason for that: it is extremely important for our health. It has even been proven that a whole-body stretch will positively influence how well you sleep!
2- Regular stretching keeps your back safe
Back problems can be triggered by lifting weights or by sudden movements, especially if you are one of those who have not been maintaining the flexibility of their spine. Sitting for long hours without stretching makes the spine stiff and tight hamstrings also can cause low back pain. Stretching exercises involving bending, folding and rotational movements help strengthen the muscles surrounding the spine and keep the discs flexible. We all want to be able to tie our own shoes later in life, right?
3- Stretching exercises help lower blood-sugar-levels.
A 30-seconds stretch and hold routine is very effective in lowering glucose levels in the blood. The effect comes from capillaries in the muscle tissue opening-up, facilitating the movement of glucose into the cells.
Should you stretch before or after a workout?
Like mentioned before, stretching is an unavoidable step in every healthy exercising routine. However, there are different ways to approach it, each with its own benefits, such as reducing the risks of injuries, improving mobility, and increasing joint range of motion.
You’ll also have to decide between static and dynamic stretches. The first one includes staying in a position for the time that takes to stretch a certain soft tissue and muscle around a joint. The second one is the act of stretching with movement, instead of stillness. Depending on your overall goals, you may be more inclined to do any of these after or before working out -choose carefully and consciously!
One myth regarding cool-down stretches is that they cause or worsen muscle soreness. On the contrary: they can help relieve it and reduce it. Additionally, they’re also responsible for the increase of joint range of motion. After a demanding physical activity, stretching during a cool-down with gentle exercises can help you carry on with your day without soreness!
The goal behind stretching before working out is to literally warm up the body. You’ll increase its temperature by moving and getting blood through your muscles. This kind of stretching will impact your performance: it’ll be better and it’ll include fewer risks of injury.}
Extra: Stretching session
You can plan your stretching routine around the time you plan to work out, or you can dedicate a specific session to it. Its benefits are relieving stiffness and muscle tension, which will help you relax both physically and mentally. These sessions can also be combines with aerobic or resistance sessions.
3 Morning Stretches to kick-start your energy
1. Bow Pose: an arch to stretch your back
From the hips to the throat, maintaining this position will align your whole back (and increase flexibility in the spine), open up the chest, abdomen, quadriceps and hips.
To do this correctly, lie on your stomach, carefully stretching your arms back and up while bending your knees. Grab your ankles or feet with your hands and hold the position for 20-30 seconds, making sure to keep your shoulders down.
2. Cobra pose: a stance to stretch
Another yoga classic that we can practice in the stretching classes is the cobra.
Thanks to this exercise your shoulders will release tension while you manage to activate your back and abdominal muscles.
Lie face down with your feet together and your hands placed at chest level. Then, lift your upper body up by stretching your arms gently and look slightly upwards. Your arms can be as straight (like an upward facing dog) or as bend as comfortable for you. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
3. Stretch the arms
Triceps are the protagonists here.
Sit up with your back straight (but relaxed, without accumulating tension) and stretch your arms upwards. Then, bend your right elbow and bring the right palm toward the center of your back. Gently push down with your left hand. Hold for 15 seconds before changing arms.