When you wake up in the morning, one of the first things you probably do without even thinking about it is stretch. Stretching is instinctive – our bodies already lead us to do it. Morning stretching is a great way to get up and going, but focusing on more targeted stretching during the day will provide the greatest benefit for our muscles and joints.
Flexibility training is an essential, yet often overlooked health-related component of fitness. If you’re experiencing weakness in day-to-day activities, it may not be due to a lack of muscle strengthening exercises, but a lack of muscle lengthening.
We know that stretching keeps muscles flexible and increases our range of motion – which allows us to enjoy all of life’s wonderful activities. But it also keeps our muscles long, lean, strong, and healthy to help us reduce tension, improve posture, and avoid joint pain, strains, balance issues, and muscle damage.
Some think of stretching as something performed only by runners or gymnasts. But we all need to stretch in order to protect our mobility and independence – at any age. It’s never too late to start making improvements in your flexibility. And the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll see progress!
Studies strongly support the benefits of daily stretching and mobility training in order to improve flexibility and minimize any loss of range of motion. If daily stretching isn’t feasible, you can still see worthwhile improvements with three or four times per week. It takes weeks to months to become flexible, and you have to keep it up to maintain it.
With a body full of muscles, the idea of daily stretching may seem overwhelming, but you don’t have to stretch every muscle you have. The areas critical for mobility are in our lower extremities: calves, hamstrings, hip flexors and quadriceps. Stretching shoulders, neck, and lower back is also beneficial. All of the Oxycise full body workouts are designed to hit all the major muscle groups and are a great way to get in your daily stretch.
Hold a stretch for 30 seconds. Don’t bounce as this can cause injury. You’ll feel tension during a stretch, but you should not feel pain. And remember to breathe!
Before starting a stretching regimen, be sure to talk to a health professional. This is especially important if you’ve had hip or back surgery. A doctor or physical therapist can show you the safest ways to stretch.