Stretching and flexibility are essential to your physical fitness and are an important part of your fitness training regimen. Without proper stretching, you lead to an increase in muscle-related injuries. In this article, certified fitness trainer Christopher Lee, located in Buffalo, New York, will discuss the importance of stretching and flexibility and offer helpful information about stretching before and after workouts.
Why is Stretching and Flexibility Important?
Stretching a muscle to its full extent or moving a muscle group through its full range of motion is enough to reap the benefits of stretching. By stretching, you keep the muscles flexible, healthy, and strong. Flexibility helps your muscles maintain their full range of motion.
When your muscles are not flexible, and you don’t properly stretch them, they can become tight, and the muscles themselves can shorten. The next time you use these muscles, they are now weak and unable to reach their full range of motion. This can increase your risk for strains, muscle damage, and joint pain.
Flexibility also helps to improve overall mobility, muscle coordination, and posture. Improving your range of motion makes it easier for your body to perform the exercises you’re asking it to. When your muscles start to shrink, the limited flexibility feels like the familiar stiffness that most people feel when they get up in the morning. Stretching multiple times a week can help prevent this and make your gym trips easier.
When to Stretch
It’s suggested that you stretch each muscle group at least two times a week for at least a minute per stretch. If you start to think about what this would include, it is easy to become overwhelmed. After all, we are covered in muscles. But some muscle groups are more important to stretch than others.
Some of these essential groups are in your lower body with your calves, hip flexors, quadriceps, and hamstrings. Ensuring that you stretch your lower back, neck, and shoulders is also extremely important.
Research shows that beginning your workout with a dynamic stretching warm-up effectively prepares your body for the exercise ahead. This stretching increases your body temperature and lengthens muscles’ connective tissues thereby prepping your body for a more intense activity. This can include movements like bear crawls.
Static stretching is probably the mental image you get when you think of stretching. Think of your grade school PE class when you think of static stretching. These stretches are held for a set amount of time and shouldn’t require much effort. These are best performed after your workout when the muscles have been warmed up. An example of these would be the child’s pose stretch, tricep stretches, and lat stretches.
Stretching and flexibility are essential to your overall fitness program and your overall physical health. Knowing which stretches to do and at what times empowers you to keep your muscles healthy and ready for the next workout.
About Christopher Lee
Christopher Lee is a certified fitness trainer from Buffalo, New York. Christopher specializes in designing workout plans for clients that make them look and feel more athletic, helping them avoid injury. Mr. Lee emphasizes a healthy diet and lifestyle so clients can fuel properly to get the most out of their workouts and reach their fitness goals. When he is not working with his clients, Christopher Lee can be found at a hot yoga class, practicing martial arts, or spending time with his friends and family in Buffalo.