Our lifestyle today needs us to be in the best form and for most of us working out has become an integral part of the lifestyle. However, unlike usually believed, fitness is not defined by your stamina or strength alone. Optimal fitness encompasses a vital but less acknowledged factor…flexibility.
Why Stretching is important?
Our daily activities require us to do a lot of bending, lifting, turning, twisting and crunching. For most of the working individuals, either on desk or on field jobs, maintaining a proper posture while sitting, standing or walking is difficult. All of this causes a lot of strain on joints, muscles and soft tissues, thereby increasing the risk of muscle and ligament tears and tissue damage.
Daunting as it may sound, you can combat the flexibility issues by incorporating a good old formula in your workout routine…stretching!
Stretching not only improves the elasticity of muscles, but also helps make them healthy and strong. It works best if done both before and after the workout. A great start would be to focus on the major muscle groups; arms, quadriceps, shoulders, neck, back, thighs, hamstrings, calves, ankles and hip flexors in the pelvis.
If you are someone who can dedicate more time to your workouts, then you can also opt for yoga too!
Yoga has considerable poses called asanas which integrate stretching into the exercises. The various asanas include core holds, postures standing, seated stretches and twists, front and backbends as well as arm balances. They involve easy movements which increase the range of motion in the joints helping you focus on major muscle groups.
If practised the right way, every pose in yoga helps strengthen and flex specific areas of your body without causing too much stress to the muscles or ligaments. However, before you make Yoga a DIY mission, you must seek consultation from a professional yoga instructor if you wish to reap the maximum benefits.
Whatever you choose, here are some points to keep in mind
By now you know that if you aim to be fully fit, the importance of flexibility and therefore, stretching, cannot be denied. Stretching is a great way to not only ease up those muscles but also, to break the monotony of a regular workout. Here are a couple of things you should bear in mind before you start.
- Warm-up: It has been widely believed that stretches are equivalent to warm-up before exercise; however researches have proven that stretching before warm-up can actually hurt your muscles. Make sure your warm up stretches are dynamic, they can mimick the movements to be performed in your activity acting as a kind of rehearsal. So careful with the moves there!
- Coordinate: It is important to coordinate stretching with your workout. If it is a leg day in your regimen, it will work best if you focus on the thighs, hamstrings, calves, ankles and hip flexors in the pelvis.
- Hydrate: Dehydration is one of the factors that can cause muscle cramps. Good amount of water intake helps regulate blood flow and keeps the joints lubricated. Hydration will also help you normalize your body temperature during the workout.
- Time your stretch: Lengthening muscles safely takes time. It is important that you stretch your muscles for at least 30 seconds. If you are dealing with a problem area 60 seconds is the recommended time.
- Stop when it hurts: While stretching is supposed to make you feel the stress in your muscles the mantra is to ‘Stop when it hurts’. You can always pause and start over.
- Breathe!: Usually, we concentrate so much on stretching that we end up holding our breath. It is important to maintain a regular breathing rate while stretching.
- Time and place are no constraints as far as stretching is concerned! You can stretch anywhere and anytime – at work, at home, on the dance floor and even when travelling.
So, here you go… everything we thought is important for you to know is shared above. If there’s any additional questions or tips you’re looking for, feel free to drop us a line! Happy Stretching 🙂