4 Great Reasons To Make Flexibility Your Focus
Flexibility is one of the five components of fitness, necessary to create a well-rounded workout schedule. To achieve the full benefits, try to be mindful of your breathing, with deep and controlled exhalations. It’s often easier to fully inhale but not exhale – practice a rhythmic pattern that is both deliberate and aware. If going into a cardio workout, include dynamic stretching through an active start and finish position.
I teach Sport Stretch at my weight loss retreat in Whistler. The first thing I do is educate them on why it is worth their time, by sharing the key benefits. Most often when kick starting a fitness routine, cardio activities and weight training get priority as they burn more calories. While this is true, stretching is what keeps you in the game.
My Recent Yoga System
Yoga is an excellent way to get a daily stretch in as well. If you don’t feel like going to a local yoga studio, there are lots of great streaming classes online. My personal favorite is https://yogaglo.com – and they have a free trial. You can choose from thousands of classes, and also throw in a few minutes of meditation. Being able to find my style of teaching was really great – I don’t do the hindi soft talking method of being in a yoga class very well, it bugs me! I like yoga instruction to be just like any other fitness instruction – helpful, factual, light and neutral. Theres a guy called Dice on there in the yoga instructor line up on YogaGlow that has great classes. The spiritual stuff for me is limited to 5 minutes of meditation class at the end. NOTE: I’m freely suggesting this system because it’s great, there is no referral link and they have no idea that i like them 🙂 If you have a great online class membership, let me know in the comments!
1 – You Can Reach Further
Everyone gets tight in their muscles and joints, especially as you get older. Stretching will help release that sensation of feeling ‘locked’. And when you’re less locked up, you’ll feel younger – consequently giving you the confidence to push your cardio and strength training sessions harder.
Stretching is a great way to improve your range of motion – have you ever noticed how far you can reach when you’re in the water? That’s because the water makes you a mere 10% of your actual body weight. Its easier to move through your bodies natural range of motion when you are 90% lighter, right?
TIP: Work towards keeping the joints healthy by working their movement every day on land.
2 – It Has Zen Factor
There’s truth behind the damaging effects of stress, and stretching will help you to relax. Although it can be hard to take time for yourself, increased flexibility means that you are increasing blood flow. This taps into your oxygen supply and gives you energy. When muscles are stretched, they’ll hold less tension. Less tension equals less stress… it’s a beautiful circle.
The side effect of feeling less stressed is that you’ll want to stand taller. But how will you do this if your posture is locked up? That’s right, by stretching the lower back muscles, chest and shoulders. In doing so, you’ll keep your back in better alignment, allowing more oxygen to come into you breathing as you’ll be standing upright. Posture will naturally improve, you’ll look up and in time, start noticing the world around you a little more than before. You’ll start taking deeper breaths than you did before when you were looking down. Soon, calmness will be part of your day. And it all started with a stretch!
TIP: Flexibility in muscles attached to the pelvis will take away stress on the lumbar spine. This will make your lower back feel better!
Be sure to warm up well when stretching in cooler temperatures
3 – Reduces Muscle Tension.
When you’ve got a great big annoying knot right in the middle of your back, taking it to the mat might be the answer. Stretching is the next best thing to a massage as the muscles improve their circulation and get a booster of nutrients, which makes you feel loose. Say goodbye to slouching – stretching keeps the back in stronger alignment, stretching out your shoulders and chest especially which will make you look like you’re in better shape instantly! Stretching allows the muscles to relax. When tense muscles get into the routine of being tense, they cut off their own circulation – which results in less oxygen and feeding of essential nutrients.
TIP: After your workout, stretching through your muscles is a great way to reduce the post-workout pain
4 – Prepares The Body For Working Out.
Nothing screams ‘get your butt into gear’ than stretching before a workout. Muscles that are flexible (can reach further when pushed through their range of motion) will be much less likely to become injured when you work them. You will also decrease the pressure that working your muscles will put on your joints. Hello less joint injuries!
One of the fundamentals of weight training is being able to lift through the full movement. Many of my clients hear me talk about the ‘stretch and strengthen’ principal, which means that the weight has to go back to it’s starting position – resting position – in an effort for it to get the full strength training benefit. However if you are not flexible, or prepared physically to bring the weight back to the place where you put added pressure on your joints, you’ll have no choice but to lift through sharp, static movements (eccentric contraction). This causes bulk, injury, and imbalanced strength.
TIP: Enhance workouts with proper preparation (stretching) through full-body flexibility exercises and your body will be ready to lift weights through fuller range of motion.
Challenge yourself to find a few minutes to stretch everyday.
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