Don’t Forget to Stretch
The older I get the more changes I notice and the more I learn about what my body needs. Last summer, my husband and I tried yoga for the first time and fell in love with it. Adding flexibility training to your workout program has so many benefits!
Although we would love to join a yoga studio and attend daily classes, it simply doesn’t work with our schedules so we try to incorporate some stretches into our programs at home. I do my stretches daily and include several of the yoga poses that I learned. I’ve got to say that my body feels so relaxed and tension-free after stretching. I didn’t even realize that I had such tightness in my hips but once I started stretching regularly I noticed a huge difference in my mobility. No more imbalances and exercises like my squat, have improved tremendously.
Stretching has so many benefits including better posture, improved performance, reduced risk of injury and fewer aches and pains. It also helps improve your coordination and balance, which I am working on since I am a total klutz!
Now for the when and what of stretching. You should always warm up your muscles with some dynamic stretches before a workout. Examples of this are leg or trunk swings or stretches in preparation for exercises included in the workout. Dynamic stretches are short in length, maybe 1-2 seconds.
But after a workout is the time for longer, static stretches. Honestly, I often run out of time at the end of my workout so I end up stretching later in the day. This works for me and is a favourite part of my day!
I try to work my way through the body, stretching all of my major muscles but I do have my favourite stretches. One of these is the pigeon pose, which I learned at hot yoga and is a very effective hip opener. This stretch was so challenging for me at first but at the same time it felt soooo good! Other areas that I enjoy stretching are the lower back, hamstrings and glutes.
One thing that I love about stretching is that sometimes my family will join me. Although my daughter likes to make fun of how inflexible I am compared to her (oh to be 8 again!), I still love when we do it together. Trying to tell an energetic child not to bounce and move into a stretch too quickly though is a challenge in itself. Slow and pain-free are points to remember but most important would be to keep breathing. As I learned in yoga, proper breathing is essential.
So what are you waiting for, add some flexibility exercises into your daily regimen and you will be sure to notice a difference. Happy stretching!