Finding it harder and harder to tie your shoes because your muscles are too tightly wound up? It's time to flex your flexibility. Stretching as little as 15 minutes a day, will help improve posture, lengthen muscles, increase flexibility and more. Still not convinced? Keep reading for some common questions about stretching and flexibility and discover why it's time to add stretching to your daily to-do list.
1. What are the benefits of stretching every day? Stretching every day means your muscles are less likely to tighten up AND your flexibility levels will get better! Stretching can also help prevent injury by giving your muscles a wider range of motion. Plus, stretching feels good. You know it does! A good stretch sesh could even boost your mood.
2. What is the importance of stretching pre- and post-exercise? Pre-workout stretching (after you've first warmed up your muscles by doing a light jog or 5 minutes on the elliptical) will increase muscle flexibility before exercise. Increased flexibility allows muscles to withstand sudden, strong contractions involved in exercise and will help prevent muscle strains or tears. For post-workout stretching, try holding stretches for about 20 seconds to lengthen the muscles you used during the workout. Why? Workout recovery is quicker and soreness is decreased when you stretch your muscles after your workout.
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3. How long should I stretch? Shoot for at least 15-20 minutes per day. Hold a stretch pose for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat each stretch three or four times. Do it pre and post work out or while sitting in front of the television at night. The cool thing is, you don't need any equipment to stretch, so you can stretch anywhere, anytime!
4. Once you lose your flexibility, is it harder to get it back? Once flexibility has gone down, it may feel tough to get it back, but it IS possible. Make it priority by including stretching activities on a daily basis. It may feel hard, but your body will thank you.
5. Are there any concerns about stretching? Stretching "cold" muscles could possibly cause injury. So go for a quick jog prior to stretching. Also, avoid a "bouncy" stretch as this can also cause injury. Slow, static stretches that are relatively pain-free are more effective and safer.
Static Stretching Dos & Don’ts
- Do warm up first with a light jog or elliptical session for at least 5 minutes before beginning your static stretching routine.
- Don't hold poses for too long. About 20 to 30 seconds max.
- Do stretch after a weight training session to help with lactic acid build-up.
- Don't hold your breath. When stretching, make sure you are breathing in and out slowly throughout the move.
- Don't bounce when you stretch.