Flexibility and Stretching Exercises: Stop Hurting Yourself!
Many people put flexibility and stretching exercises on the back burner. It’s a low priority that’s only paid any attention when they’re sore or stiff. Occasionally, they may do a few hamstring stretches before a hike or a run, but even that’s rare. If you don’t spend some time focusing on mobility, you’re hurting yourself. Stretching is important.
Age & Exercise
There are two things that cause your body tissues to shrink and tighten; age and exercise. The occasional pre- or post-workout stretch usually isn’t enough to combat this. In fact, most personal trainers and Crossfit coaches will tell you that mobility work is just as important as your regular workouts.
What You Can Do
There are a number of ways you can integrate mobility and stretching into your week. You can take a yoga or Pilates class. These classes work your entire body, so you know you’re getting a full body mobility workout with either type of program. You’re also increasing strength.
You can adopt a pre-workout warm-up and a post-workout mobility routine. For example, if you’re going to go for a run you might do a few squats, mountain climbers, and scorpions to warm up your leg muscles. After the workout you might use a foam roller to roll out your IT bands, your hamstrings, and your calves. There are also many online video programs that demonstrate daily mobility workouts.
Focusing on mobility, stretching, and flexibility provides a number of benefits:
- Increases the blood flow and nutrients to muscles and cartilage.
- Reduces muscle soreness after working out.
- Helps reduce toxins in the muscles and clean them out more quickly.
- Helps prevent tightening and shortening of muscles, which makes you more susceptible to muscle, tendon and joint injuries. You’ll reduce your risk of injury.
- Improves your range of motion. You’ll be better able to comfortably perform movements and go about your day.
- Reduce pain. Regular stretching has been shown to reduce muscle pain, joint pain and pain from tendons and ligaments.
- Alleviate stress. You might also be surprised to learn that stretching is a great way to relax and reduce stress. Yoga in particular can be a very effective stress buster.
Take a look at the options available to you. Yoga and Pilates are popular and there are likely many classes available in your community. You may also enjoy creating your own daily stretching program. If you exercise on a regular basis then be sure to warm your muscles up properly and to stretch them after your workout. Your body will thank you.