The Benefits of Stretching
When you’ve finished your run or your workout the last thing you think of doing is hanging around and stretching. For the majority of people once the workout is done, so are they. Did you know that you could increase the productivity of your workout by 20% if you start and finish your session with a deep and effective stretch. Most of us know how to stretch, it was part of our physical education routine at school - but do we know why we do it? Stretching isn’t just going through the motions and pretending to yourself that you are stretching, it is a necessary part of your workout to ensure your body can repair, recover and rejuvenate. Prior to your workout your body is cold and therefore you should look at adding dynamic stretches to your routine before you even start moving. Dynamic means movement therefore these stretches should include jumping lunges, alternate leg swings, trunk rotations, high kicks and jump squats - the key is to gradually awaken your body and introduce it to the fact that it is about to get active. These types of stretches are very beneficial as they mimic sport-like motions and physical movements and therefore prepare your body for action. When you complete your workout is the ideal time to do static stretches. These stretches are beneficial post workout as they help remove the build up of lactic acid from your body and help repair and elongate your muscles. This key time to stretch will ensure you don’t wake up the following morning with DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Stretching after a workout will ensure that you regulate your body temperate and cool down, ensuring blood flow returns to normal. If you’ve ever rushed off home after a workout and felt dizzy or light headed then this is why - you didn’t allow your body to regulate back to normal. Be sure to hold each stretch for between 30 seconds to 2 minutes. If you feel you need a deeper stretch then take a deep breath and gradually increase the stretch further. Make sure you are not holding your breath, as your muscles require a constant supply of oxygen to get the most out of your stretch.Also ensure you do not bounce whilst in the stretch as you may risk injury. Stretching should feel like a slight pull or elongation on the muscle but should never hurt.
These are the Bulalicious top tips on why you should add prior and post stretching routines into your workout session:
MENTAL PREPARATION FOR YOUR WORKOUT:
Stretching will ensure that you awaken your body, especially if you have just come from being at work all day and sat for long periods,or you are planning an early morning workout after lying in bed for several hours. Stretching will also help your coordination and ensure you get in the zone, preparing you for the activities or exercise you are about to embark on.
Dynamic stretching before exercise ensures all of your muscles are supplied with blood which stores nutrients and oxygen vital for your muscles to work.
Stretching can aid our spinal compression, which is where we basically shrink everyday because the cartilage in our joints and knees becomes compressed. Although the adjustment is only 1% this means a good stretch can make you half an inch taller. Posture can also affect your confidence, how your clothes fit and your overall health. So after your stretch, shoulders back and be sure to strut your stuff.
REDUCES YOUR RISK OF INJURY:
If you regularly stretch your overall flexibility will increase. This in turn means that when you go about your everyday life you are less likely to pull a muscle bending to pick things up or reaching for things. So many back and knee injuries are caused by people’s bodies not being able to do the simplest of tasks such as tie their shoe lace. Being flexible will ensure that you can keep active for longer and keeping mobile in later life will help offset arthritis and osteoporosis.
Prior to a workout you can often feel stiff and tense, however a good stretch can improve how productive your session is and how far you can lunge, jump and run, ensuring you get the most from your workouts. The better the stretch of a muscle the more range of movement you will have at the joint.
IMPROVES STATE OF MIND:
A good stretch is proven to improve your overall mood. This is because in order to stretch your movements are slower and much more controlled, your breathing is slow meaning you are calmer and you are focused on inhaling and exhaling oxygen at a slower and more controlled rate whilst enduring each stretch. This in turn enables you to think clearer and make more lucid decisions.
Throughout the day we acquire stress. For some it may only be small but for others they may feel like they are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. This is because the human body stores all of our stress in our muscles, making them tight and sore. Stretching can eliminate stress by elongating the muscles and ridding them of the built-up tension, in turn feeling like you are ridding your body of the day’s worries. So the next time you think of skipping your stretch after your workout think again, your body will thank you for it in the long run.
Loloma Levu, The Bulalicious Activewear Team
*Models wear the new Tropical Vibes Collection from Bulalicious Activewear and is sold via our online store www.bulalicious.com with free shipping worldwide. As well as retail stores Essentials in Port Denarau, Essence of Fiji Rejuvenation Centre Nadi, and Prouds in both Suva and Nadi.*