Stretch Like A Champion, 6 Tips For Stretching Success

Exercise, Health Add comments

Stretching feels great!

If you want to look and perform your best, add stretching in to every one of your workouts.  Put some stretches in your warm up, and some in your cool down.  (Heck, even use some while you’re resting between exercises!)

It is important to warm up and stretch before an intense workout.  When you raise your body temperature with a warm up, temperature-related changes start happening.  Blood flow to and from your muscles increases (which increases fuel delivery and enhances waste removal).  More oxygen is delivered.  Friction in your muscles is reduced, which will increase your exercise efficiency.  The speed with which your nervous system relays messages is increased.  And your metabolic rate is elevated, so you burn more calories during each exercise.

Your warmup is the foundation of your workout.

And after a great workout session, a cooldown series of stretches and light exercises will help your body transition out of its state of high excitement and leave you raring to face the rest of your day.

Here are a few ways to start stretching like a champion:

Always Warm Up.  Before stretching any muscle group, warm up with some light exercises that don’t strain your range of motion.  Think of your muscles as though they were salt water taffy – if you pull them when they’re cold, they’ll snap… but pull them when they’re warm and they’ll do whatever you want.  (Especially don’t stretch your back when you’re cold, you could hurt yourself!  Check out this post: 17 Ways To Fix Back Pain)

Breathe Deep.  Breathing deeply will help you to relax, furthering your stretches and improving your flexibility.

Slow Down.  Too many people bounce into and out of a stretch in just a few seconds.  Hold each position at least 20 seconds, and work up to a minute each.  (There’s probably no benefit to holding longer than a minute.  If you want, come out of the stretch and then go back into it again if you want more time in the position)

Be Patient.  It took you years to lose the flexibility you had as a child, don’t expect it all back overnight.  Be diligent and consistent in your stretching to see results.  Also, many people spend 5 hours with weights and 5 hours with cardio each week, and maybe 20 minutes of stretching.  If improving your flexibility is important to you, make sure that your time investment matches your goals.

No Pain.  A little discomfort is ok, but pain means you’re pushing yourself too far and actually harming your flexibility.  Just take it easy and enjoy a relaxing stretch.

Consistency.  Make stretching a habit.  You’ll get better at the things you do most often.  Make sure to put flexibility training as an important part of each day’s fitness program.

As a final note, remember that stretching not only helps reduce injuries, it will improve your posture, appearance, health, and performance as well.  So get stretching!

(For more information on improving your flexibility, check out this post: Tips For Tight Hamstrings)

Comments are closed.