I will be the FIRST to admit: I am not the most flexible person on the planet (even though I wish I was). I used to be skeptical about stretching. "Does it really even do anything?" I would ask myself after a workout. A lot of times I would skip my stretching session altogether (guilty).
But a few years ago, I started really trying to include a stretching session after I finished a workout and I noticed a HUGE difference not only in my flexibility, but in the way my body felt as a whole. I felt less sore, more limber, and even leaner.
I started going to hot yoga again on a regular basis - which I definitely recommend giving a try! I could go on and on about hot yoga, but that is a completely different blog post. We will definitely have to get to that later, because the benefits are absolutely AMAZING, for both the body and the mind.
As a trainer, I have realized that my old habit of skipping stretching is much more common than I realized! A lot of people simply do not know which stretches to do, what they do for your body, and why they are so important. So, here is a list of 8 reasons your body NEEDS a good stretch - every day!
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1. It prevents injury.
Especially before a resistance training workout, stretching after a light warm up prepares your muscles for a more intense sweat session and decreases the chances that you might get that sudden "pulled muscle" feeling mid-workout.
2. Stretching improves your posture.
There are certain muscles that can get extra tight and sway our posture all kinds of weird directions. Stretches and yoga poses that focus on strengthening these muscles in the core, shoulders, and back can help tremendously improve your posture and resolve any pain you may be feeling as a result of having poor posture.
3. It increases your flexibility.
This one may be obvious, but I felt like I needed to include it because flexibility is SO important. I have noticed such a different in the way my own body feels just by stretching or going to yoga every day.
4. It actually gives you more energy.
Do you ever wake up in the morning and just feel drained? Sometimes I wake up and am still tired, but I just slept. Giving yourself a good stretch can actually help you feel more alert and ready to take on your day - when our muscles are tight, we are more likely to feel sleepy. So stretch 'em out!
5. Stretching is a great stress reliever.
Especially yoga! There is nothing more relaxing than focusing on stretching as deep as you can into a pose (as long as you aren't in pain). I spent a lot of time working on the computer doing homework, blogging, and working, and sometimes my neck and shoulders can start to feel tense and stressed. Stopping and taking a break to stretch helps SO much.
6. It increases blood flow.
After a workout, our muscles NEED extra blood flow and oxygen to recover. This will help shorten recovery time and lower your heart rate after an intense training session.
7. It can give you the most from your workout.
If our muscles are tight and cold before we start a workout, we won't be able to move as quickly or in as wide of a range of motion. I like to start with a light warm up, like a 5 minute jog, and then do a few stretches to loosen and heat up my muscles before I start a training session.
8. Stretching improves your energy levels and gets you ready to go.
I like to work out early in the mornings, so stretching afterwards is the time when I relax, bring my heart rate back down, and recharge on energy levels so I am ready to take on my day.
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What are some of your favorite ways to stretch? Yoga, pilates, or pre and post resistance training? Leave a comment below. I want to hear from you!