Stretching: Many of us see it as a boring necessity before or after a workout. Something to be got through as quickly as possible. We know we're supposed to do it but we're not sure exactly why. It doesn't feel like “proper” exercise after all, so what's the point?
Does that way of thinking sound familiar? If so, you're probably not getting the most out of your fitness regime. Stretching is far more than an optional add-on to exercise. It has important health benefits in its own right and it can make a huge difference to the quality of your workout. Not to mention the fact that it feels brilliant if you do it right!
Stretching is all about improving your flexibility. But why is that so important? Here are some top benefits of stretching:
When should I stretch?
Anytime! Before a workout in order to prepare your muscles and prevent injury. After a workout in order to ease any aches and pains and promote muscle recovery. And anytime in between in order to relieve stress and give your energy levels a boost!
How do I get started?
Any qualified fitness instructor will be able to advise you on the combination of stretches that's best for you.
So next time you're at the gym, take a bit of time to ask some stretching questions.
Alternatively, you could try out an exercise class with a specific focus on stretching. Yoga and Pilates are the obvious ones, but many gyms also offer more generic stretching and relaxation classes.
Take the time to stretch. Your body and mind will thank you for it.
It's the thought that stretching takes ages and maybe not quite being sure how to do it that holds lots of people back, I think. I got a personal trainer to put together two five-minute stretching routines for the beginning and end of my workout. Knowing what to do and being able to do it quickly made all the difference.
Yep Frank, there are still people who don't stretch. I'm one of them! I find that starting slowly on the treadmill is all the warm-up I need. I just don't have the patience!
Definitely stretch before you work out! This is especially true in the cold damp weather. Don't find out the hard way, like me :). Also, remember gyms are air-conditioned which is great once you get going. But this means you really do need to stretch before you start your workout.
Are there still people out there who don't stretch before and after their workouts? I don't envy their bodies!