[Disclaimer- All of these opinions are my own and I am not a medical professional. This is my perspective from personal experience.]
Today I am talking about the “S” word many of us active people forget about. Can you guess it? S-T-R-E-…Strength? Nope, Stretching!! 🙂
Growing up as a dancer in the studio flexibility is valued so stretching has always been a part of the usual regimen. It was not until I got into middle school and into other sports did I truly discover that not everyone went through the extreme effort to bring their leg to their nose before a softball game. As a team we would do a few stretches, but usually that was the part everyone took as a joke before we got into the game.
I even saw it in high school as a cheerleader when watching the football team on the field. Sure everyone did a little bit of it, but did they know how important it was? Even my family who is active does not take the proper amount of time to stretch after runs or gym lifts. It just happens to be a benefit of my Pilates and Yoga classes, and my calves kill for it after runs, but if I didn’t feel that I needed to, would I still stretch daily? To be honest, I think…
No. No, I would not.
However, I have learned that stretching is so important for the body and one major component that many people forget about. It’s not as easy as picking up and apple instead of a bag of chips. It takes some time out of your day, hurts a little, and can be frustrating if your not as flexible as you want to be. I’m not saying we all need to have our forehead against our knees when we sit and lean forward to touch our toes…haha..I’m saying we need to properly stretch our muscles before and after use because stretching prevents injury.
Do you remember to stretch?
Increases circulation throughout the body– stretching increases blood flow throughout the body, provides nutrients to our muscles and cartilage.
Increases our range of motion– Stretching makes us more flexible, allowing our bodies to move more easily and have a greater range of motion. We can perform tasks much easier and improve our coordination.
Reduces stress– stress makes our muscles tense, causing us to be tight. Stretching allows the muscles to properly relax . Stretching is a form of exercise, and just like others can boost your mood 🙂 Get those endorphins goin’!
Improve alignment– not many people are aware of their body’s alignment. Many of us slouch forward in our chairs or like to stand with out hip out or with our weight mainly on one foot. Stretching brings awareness to the body about the importance of proper alignment- shoulders back and down, head lifted, ribcage neutral, hips forward, feet hip width apart, and weight even over the metatarsals. Better alignment in the body will bring less discomfort to your joints and muscles- no more back pain!
A fuller breath– with proper alignment and posture our muscles can get the oxygen they need easier. This helps relax the body, and in turn also relieves stress. It is important to be aware of our breath, inhaling and exhaling slow and controlled.
If you answered “yes” to the question above, what do you find as a benefit of stretching for you? For me, I find that when I stretch before and after a good run, my muscles soreness decreases. After my half marathon, I REALLY focused on stretching for a couple of days because my body was so sore, and guess what? Stretching (on my yoga mat of course) helped relieve the pain!
Come back tomorrow for the WIAW (What I Ate Wednesday) party! On Thursday, I’ll have some tips on how to stretch and share with you some of my favorite stretches for the body!
P.S. I would like some feedback on this post. Did you find it helpful. Is it information you already know? Does it make you want to stretch??
Please comment below and share your thoughts with me if you can.