In our day to day lives, sometimes squeezing a sufficient workout into our schedule can be difficult. I understand and run into this problem myself sometimes. However, we do have 5-10 minutes here or there for a meaningful stretch. Consistently, not duration, will exceed greater results. One trend I see often with new clients is the lack in quality movement through poor mobility and flexibility. More recently, when I see someone with exceptional mobility has been more impressive to me than seeing feats of strength.
Flexibility – refers to the absolute range of motion in a joint or series of joints, and the length in muscles that cross the joints to induce a bending movement.
Mobility – capable of moving freely and easily or changing from one physical state or condition to another.
Stretching never seems to be on anyone’s to do list, but it’s more important than you think. 1) It can dramatically increase quality of life and it allows day-to-day task to suddenly become much easier. 2) For you strength trainees, it will noticeably increase your strength without changing your lifting program. You could stop lifting for 2 weeks and focus on flexibility and come back after those 2 weeks and be stronger than when you started. A muscle is only as stronger as its closest joint. Greater range of motion precedes greater strength. 3) Stretching will enhance our breathing patterns through pain management. We all know there is a bit of pain involved, and the body must feel and release appropriate breathes to handle that pain. This results in a better conditioned body because the systems now has a greater capacity of oxygen. You’d be surprise how little we actual take good, solid breathes throughout our day. 4) It can be a stress reliever through the need to relax the mind and the muscle to allow space for lengthening. We may become quite irritated(guilty) when beginning to stretch which could be pent up emotions being released from the body. Yes, negative emotions are held in tight muscle tissue and joints. 5) Injury prevention should be monumental to why we should include just minimal stretching into our lives. As our range increase, the joints of the body can handle an abnormal twist, bend or jerk that we didn’t see coming. Nobody wants a sprained ankle stepping off a curb.
Best times to stretch?
We sometimes think of stretching as only before or after a workout. How about before or after our day? We spend more time with our day then our workout, right. Our day deserves a little lovin’ too. I’ve found it quite helpful to get a stretch (5-10min) in before I’ve started the day or right before bed because the body has not been compensated yet. It has had time to realign itself through the lying position of sleep. In today’s society, we put ourselves in some pretty awful positions in which the body is not so happy with.
How did I get so tight?
Simple.. years of putting ourselves in bad positions which the body then creates a defense mechanism in order to keep its joints safe(stiffness). When the skeletal structure is put in a poor position, the tendons and muscle tighten so the structure doesn’t break or collapse. The body is actually temporarily helping you to keep safe, when we do wrong. How selfless?
Where do I start?
Find imbalances or asymmetries. When I started playing around with a few difficult movements, such as sitting down into a low squat position (like babies do with ease) I recognized differences in symmetry or maybe even a pinch somewhere. Not to worry, This is feedback that’s something is wrong. Attack that area. Choose one or two areas of the body to focus on (ex. Hamstrings, chest) and do most of your work on them.
For me I’m working on my right forearm because that’s the hand that I use my phone with more often and it has gotten much tighter causing some pain in my right elbow. I’ve also been isolating the hips through performing modified splits to compensate for my increased driving.
When it comes to working out, stick with a dynamic stretch prior to the workout (stretching in motion) and static stretching post workout (isolating holds) Enjoy and tears during stretch will not be frowned upon.
P.S. SIT LESS OFTEN WHEN POSSIBLE.