How flexible are you? Don’t be a Barbie.
When your fitness instructor asks, “How flexible are you?”, you can pretty much guarantee they aren’t actually querying your work schedule. We’re talking about touching your toes flexible. The ability to do a decent yoga squat flexible. Why? Well, because we think stretching is far too often neglected when it comes to fitness training, and there are so many reasons why it should be further up the list of priorities.
With increased flexibility comes an increased range of movement. As you get older this is SO IMPORTANT. When you age, your muscles will get tighter, and your joints will get stiffer. Simple things such as bending down to tie your shoelaces or zip up your boots, suddenly might not be so simple. The more focus we give to maintaining and increasing our flexibility, the more we can reduce these difficulties that come with aging.
Improved blood flow.
Regular stretching can improve your blood circulation. You’re less likely to suffer from cramping. You’ll reduce muscular knots which cause aches and pain. This in turn will mean that your muscles are able to “perform” at a more efficient level. You will be keeping your muscles in better condition.
Decreased risk of injury.
Think of an elastic band. The tighter it is, the more likely it is to snap. Now picture your muscles as having the same mode of action as an elastic band. You need to keep them stretched, supple and flexible to help decrease risks of muscle tears, strains and sprains. Does anyone else remember the difference between Barbie dolls and Sindy dolls in the 80s? Barbie’s legs were always snapping off whereas Sindy was fully prepared with her elasticated joints. Don’t be a Barbie.
Sitting down all day at your desk will tighten up your hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes, and muscles around your neck. When you come to take a standing position, you are therefore much more likely to have poor posture due to the tightness and discomfort. Regular stretching to keep those muscles feeling nice and supple, will mean you can move around with improved posture. You’ll be less likely to suffer from any aches in your lower back area in particular.
Nothing will make you feel as chilled as nice stretch-focused yoga class. Even more so if you’re in a hot studio. Stretching out your muscles and incorporating your breath to do so will relax your body and mind. You’ll find “the zone”, and you’ll feel incredible. Ease the tension out of your shoulders and back and lengthen your legs. It’s the perfect release after a tense day.
Don’t miss out
It’s all too easy to be running late to class meaning you do a quick 3 star jumps and call that your warm-up. Likewise, we’re all rushing off after we’ve finished with our minds on the next events of the day. Many group fitness classes don’t offer any guided stretch after class, therefore we tell ourselves that’s okay. It’s not. Dynamic stretching before your workout will prepare you to workout safely and optimally. Stretching after your workout is the best time to improve your flexibility, to ease out any tight areas, to avoid muscle soreness and to aid recovery.
Get into the habit of making stretching a part of every single workout you do. You will reap the benefits.
Written by Becky Barrett.
Becky Barrett is an international talent manager and personal fitness coach with over 15 years’ professional experience and a 1st class Honours degree in Business & Law.
Driven by her unique values of compassion and a holistic approach to talent management, Becky has devised an innovative solution to take on the fitness industry with a brand-new personal fitness concept that aims to inspire and boost ‘new normal’ approaches to exercise routines.
Features include: Health & Wellbeing, Natural Health, Arden University, The Telegraph, BBC, Time & Leisure, Bdaily News, The Stage.