Life is just plain busy, and sometimes this causes us to rush, hustle and bustle to just make it through sport, dinner and bedtime. We get it. And if you feel like you are already squeezing in a workout on your lunch break, how can you find time to stretch, too? It may feel annoying and impossible for you to take those extra five to 10 minutes to stretch before and after your workout, but if we told you it would help relieve muscle soreness and prevent you from getting injured, would you make it more of a priority?
What Stretching Does for the Body
If you stretch on a regular basis (daily is the end goal!) your muscles will lengthen also helping your range of motion to improve. A little breakdown on how it works - when you stretch, you are breaking apart the fibrous tissue that supports your joints. As you get older, that tissue builds up more and more and can begin to knot. The more you sit or avoid stretching after a vigorous warm up, the more likely you are to lose your range of motion, have joint issues (yes those knees, hips and shoulders) and injure yourself doing an everyday activity or during your next workout.
Your blood circulation gets better. Whether you have an office job or an active job where you are constantly on your feet, at the end of the day, your muscles get overworked, tight and you may feel soreness or pain. If your muscles are not receiving the blood supply that they need, this is what happens. When you stretch, you are providing more blood flow to your muscles which also delivers nutrients and oxygen to your tissues, improves circulation, gets rid of lactic acid and beyond. Convinced?
How Often Should You Stretch
The more regularly you set time aside to stretch, the better. It is best to set aside a shorter amount of time in your day to stretch rather than stretching too much fewer times per week. Think when you wake up in the morning, move around to get your muscles warm and stretch a little while you are waiting for your coffee to brew. Then after a long day before bed, stretch out anything that feels sore or tight and there you have it, your daily stretching routine is complete.
We know it is easier said than done, so do what works best for you. One baby step at time. Start by stretching before and after each workout and make it priority. If you find yourself tight on time, stretching in the shower before you continue on with your day is great hack to fitting in those 5 minutes of stretching your muscles worked (the shower warms up your muscles!) Here are some more quick tips:
Give foam rolling a try.
Perform dynamic rather than static stretching prior to activity.
Perform static stretching after every activity.
Target your stretches to the areas that need it.
Importance of Stretching
Set aside an extra 5 - 10 minutes to stretch, holding each stretch for 15 - 30 seconds. Be sure to allow at least 40 - 45 minutes in between before your next stretch. The benefits are endless:
Keeps muscles flexible, strong and healthy
Improves range of motion
Increases performance in activities and everyday life
Promotes a quicker recovery after any workout, including walking and running
Note: Be sure to warm up first to muscles to prevent pulling or overstretching muscles