I don’t know about you, but I do not enjoy yoga very much. I can never really quiet my mind the way “they” say we are supposed to, and I generally find it hard so it’s not very relaxing for me. Whenever Ray would have yoga scheduled in our routine, I would skip it and just sleep in a little more. I thought, “I don’t really need that…I just need to do the REAL workouts.”
Well, he does yoga and other stretching routines and you should see how much faster and stronger he has gotten while running. Me? Not so much. I am running better but definitely not faster. So maybe there is something to this stretching stuff.
Why IS stretching for flexibility is important?
Essentially, when we work out, we shorten our muscles; they become tight, sometimes too tight, and this tightness can lead to injury. And no one likes an injury. We aren’t out there putting in the miles and the time to derail our progress with a preventable injury. If we take the time to properly stretch out our muscles, we can avoid unnecessary time off from our runs and workouts.
But don’t just take my word for it. The people at lifehacker.com have this to say:
about the main benefits of stretching:
For Your Body
- Helps improve flexibility (increases your range of motion)
- Assists in correct posture by lengthening tight muscles that pull areas of the body away from their intended position (because of so much time at our computers, many of us have tight chest muscles which pulls the shoulders and head forward, leaving us with a hunched shoulder look)
- Potential to decrease injury by preparing muscles for work before activity
- Increases blood and nutrient supply to muscles, thereby possibly reducing muscle soreness
For Your Mind
- Even a short amount of time (10-15 minutes) of stretching can calm the mind, provide a mental break, and give your body a chance to recharge
- Classes like yoga or pilates offer you a chance to spend an hour releasing tension physically and mentally
And the good people at urmc.rochester.edu:
How to get the most from your stretching
- Do five to 10 minutes of walking or light jogging to warm up before you start exercising and stretching. Do not try to stretch muscles when they are “cold.”
- Stretch at least two to three times a week. If you work out two to three times a week, just make it part of your workout routine.
- Stretch all major muscle groups, especially those your activity involves. For running or other leg-centered exercise, that means the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. Stretch the shoulders, chest, and back before activities working the upper body.
- Stretch each muscle group individually using slow, gentle movements. Breathe while you stretch, exhaling as you move into the stretch. Hold the position no more than 20 to 30 seconds. Three to five repetitions is recommended.
- Don’t try to balance and stretch at the same time. Holding onto a chair or wall for standing stretches provides more stability.
- Don’t bounce while you stretch or make sudden movements. Back off if you experience pain. Stretching should not take a joint past its normal range of motion. Stretching the wrong way can harm muscles by creating small tears that may become bigger when you exercise.
Not sure exactly what to do when stretching? Check out this super quick, super doable stretching for flexibility routine from our “friend” (he feels like one anyway) Tony Horton: