Stretching is one of those things many people would like to do and it can also be done everywhere, but only a minority of people actually do it.
Stretching is often seen as something you do for a few minutes before or after a workout, but the workout is the main concern of many people. Always remember: stretching might benefit your workout and decrease your risk for injuries.
Although study results are mixed and more research is needed, some of them show positive benefits of stretching.
Two of the most important ones are an improvement in some athletic performances, as well as reduced risk for injuries as already mentioned. Both of those benefits go back to the increased joint mobility that stretching provides.
Stretching, when done correctly, increases the flexibility and thus the range of motion in your joints, increasing your performance or reducing the risk for injuries, as it helps your joints to go through the full range of motion. It also enables your muscles to work more effectively.
Stretching can also help you improve your posture, i.e. in case you have lordosis. By stretching the tightened muscles and exercising the weaker ones those imbalances in your posture can be corrected.
A good program that focuses on reducing lordosis is called ‘Agile 8’. It consists of 8 exercise and many people recommend them as a warm-up before any workout. (The ‘Agile 8’ doesn’t consist of regular stretching exercises.)
In case you are stressed and don’t find time to calm down, you can use the 10-15 minutes while stretching to calm down your mind. Focus on your muscles and feel them while stretching.
Other flexibility programs like yoga, pilates or hot yoga are also recommended and are gaining more followers over the past few years. Including one of those long-duration flexibility sessions, which usually lasts 45-60 minutes, once a week is a great starting point.
There are many resources online with different stretching techniques and you probably know some exercises yourself. Just start with 1-2 minutes and increase it along your way. If you want to start with yoga and learn exercises that way, sign up for a class.
Stretching might a great addition to your exercise regime and help you stay flexible and injury free.
Steps to take:
- Stand up right now and try to touch your toes. (Don’t hurt yourself).
- Seriously, try it!
- If you can’t touch them, make sure to include a 5-minute stretch after waking up.