By Roseanne Venturino
How often have you gotten ready for a workout, whether it be a hike, outdoor cycling or an intense boot camp class, only to realize that your muscles are tight or sore?
Well that’s no joke! Much of the general population does not dedicate enough time to stretching, and this not only affects your athletic performance, it can ultimately lead to injury.
As a personal trainer/group fitness instructor, I’ve seen this happen all too often. Many people are failing to realize that stretching is an integral part of any exercise regime.
If you’re not an avid exerciser, and you’re unsure of when to incorporate stretching as part of your daily routine, try stretching first thing in the morning. This will become a healthy way to start your day. It helps lengthen and elongate the connective tissue covering the muscles which allows the blood to flow and bring oxygen to cells for better circulation. Stretching shouldn’t be limited to those who exercise, it should become a part of everyone’s daily habits.
For those avid exercisers and athletes, however, before any activity, precede with a warm-up that simulates the actual workout. For example, if you‘re going to a kickboxing class, warm up with a few kicks to the side and front of you to mimic the actual workout to warm up the muscles you will be working. After your workout, proceed with static (stationary) stretches and hold for at least 15-30 seconds. Do not stretch to the point of pain, only to where you feel the muscle stretched to its fullest range, there is a difference.
Breathing and stretching work hand in hand. Remember to inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. As you hold your stretches, never hold your breath, as breathing brings oxygen in to the cells and releases tension.
Flexibility is very important, as it deteriorates as we age, especially if we are inactive. It can become difficult to perform the simplest daily activities, even worse, it may lead to imbalances and mishaps such as falls and breaks in bones which inevitably causes pain and rehab. On the contrary, remaining flexible can help carry you with a more upright stature, a stronger, more stable body. It can also reduce the chances of chronic back pain.
Now that I’ve shared some facts about the importance of stretching, you’ll know better than to skip the stretching segment, right? It’ s worth every second and it should become a mandatory part of your workout. Stay Flexible!
Photography: Jason T. Jaskot
Key Stylist: Renessta Olds
Assistant Stylist: William ShiSeer James