By Jen Gendron: Health & Wellness Coach, PTS/FIS
You rush through your workout pushing out as many set & reps as you can along with a little sweaty cardio before you rush off you your next stop – you got your workout in but who has time to waste on stretching? And furthermore, why bother? You want to get stronger and fitter – how will stretching help? Well the answer is in more ways than you might realize!
While cardiovascular training and muscular work are both super important components of a well-rounded fitness program, stretching is equally important. When we are younger, we tend to fluff this off and not give it much thought – our body feels good, we don’t have any trouble bending and reaching so why “waste” our time on a stretch?
Regardless of your age or fitness level, stretching should be included in your program. Stretching helps us to maintain our full range of motion around our joints which is something that can decline not only with age but also with lack of use (which can be from physical inactivity or from repetitive motions that shorten certain muscles – like sitting all day in a sedentary job), injury or other underlying health issues. When we start to experience tightness in certain muscles, it affects the joints around that muscle and begins to limit our range of motion which can start of subtly but can gradually lead to restrictions that will inhibit your enjoyment of activities in daily life.
As we age, or if we become less active, fibrosis can set in whereby fibrous connective tissue begins to replace muscle fibers thereby further limiting our range of motion. This is where the concept of “use it or lose it” comes in to play with regards to stretching. The less we move our muscles through a full range of motion on a regular basis, the less we become able to do so.
Some of the other significant benefits of stretching include: reduction in stress and muscle tension, prevention of injuries, improvement of posture, helps reduce back pain, helps to calm the mind and relieve stress and improves performance to name just a few.
For these reasons, including some stretching as part of your regular exercise routine on four to seven days a week is highly recommended for optimal health. Ideally, you can incorporate some dynamic stretching prior to a workout if you wish (moving our body through full range of motion without a hold) and static stretching after a workout (the type of stretch we hold for 20-30 seconds).
If you are unsure of where to begin, click here to download our FREE stretch guide to give you an idea of some basic full body stretches you can include in your daily routine. You can also incorporate other forms of stretching including yoga or Qi Gong classes, assisted stretching with a personal trainer or foam rolling to name just a few.
Not sure where to begin? Click here to book a free fitness consultation with one of our certified personal trainers to discuss how we can help you incorporate stretching in to your program.
Be sure to include stretching as part of your regular workout routine regardless of your age or fitness level – your body will thank you today and in the future!