Posted by Carah…YWCA fitness staff and Sunday Morning Bootcamp Instructor
One of the most important components of fitness is flexibility, yet somehow it is often the component that is most often overlooked. Whether you are an athlete or not, flexibility plays a key role in everything we do in our daily lives. So tell me…what do you think flexibility means? If you thinking being flexible means landing the splits at the drop of a hat, then think again. Flexibility is more about gaining functional benefits to improve your everyday movements, such as bending over or reaching for something. So you see stretching for flexibility is very important especially as we get older. Here are a few reasons why you might want to rethink leaving flexibility training out of your workout routine.
1. To maintain and improve range of motion in your joints
2. To maintain and improve posture, keeping your body properly aligned
3. To reduce the risk of injuries that can be caused by doing everyday activities
4. Increased mobility allowing you to move more freely without pain or discomfort
Stretching is something our bodies want us to do naturally, but instead of just doing that mindless yawning stretch when we wake up in the morning, we need to be more mindful of our stretching routine and make sure we include flexibility training on a regular basis. Remember, stretching for flexibility is also different than stretching tight muscles after a workout. So in addition to stretching after a work out try and take 5 minutes out of your day to stretch for flexibility, and aim on doing this 2-3 time each week.
Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your S-T-R-E-T-C-H !
*Stretch the muscle to resistance and hold for 8-30 seconds, then take a deep breath in and as you exhale stretch a little deeper until you feel the resistance again, and then let your body relax into the stretch again
*A good stretch should take at least 30 seconds, if it feels good hold it longer
*Relax and focus on the specific muscle you are stretching
*Do not push yourself and know when to stop. Overdoing it can cause injuries. You should be able to feel the stretch but you should not feel any pain or discomfort.
Now that you know the basics its up to you to get the most out of your stretch! Remember, stretching for flexibility has nothing to do with being athletic; it is about maintaining your quality of life as you age and we can all benefit from it.