Being a Personal Trainer and freelancing in various gyms, I see & speak to numerous members from all different backgrounds. But all of them have one thing in common; they want to get the gains.

Whether it be getting ready for their big day, wanting to loose weight or drop a few dress sizes or getting fit.

How important is stretching muscles

But what a lot of people don’t realise and neglect is how important stretching is after a warm-up, right down to when they have finished their workout.

Think of it like this, imagine a rubber band that just sits on your desk unused. The minute you go to try and extend that band it almost always snaps in half.

Remember your muscles are like a rubber band

The more you use the rubber band the more flexible and stronger the band remains.

But it doesn’t just stop there, stretching your muscles can make the most of your body and make everyday living more efficient. Bear in mind simple everyday chores, such as carrying your shopping, to reaching for that book on the high shelf without experiencing stiffness, as well as limited mobility range in carrying out a simple task can all be improved with regular stretching.

A lot of people will argue that stretching is not necessary, even going as far as calling it over-rated or believing its only meant for the dancers.

Stretching and flexibility

What the nay-sayers don’t realize is that stretching opens up your range of motion and increases flexibility; not stretching drastically reduces mobility in the joints and muscles, which increases your risk for injury — especially for runners and anyone that lifts weight, constantly placing stress on the muscles.

Very little to no stretching reduces flexibility in the muscle and joint leading to a change in biomechanics or normal function and contributes to increased tension at the tendon.

If you’re not stretching

For example, someone with tight quadriceps will develop Patella Tendonitisn (is an overuse injury affecting your knee. It is the result of your patella tendon being overstressed because the tight muscle pulls on the tendon attachment at the patella, creating increased tension), this then leads to inflammation, and pain.

Therefore just 5 minutes after a workout, a stretch is needed in order to stretch out the quadriceps and surrounding muscles to prevent Patella Tendonitis, but it doesn’t just stop there.

Another example of an ailment people suffer due to not stretching is back pain – mainly those who lift weights to train.

stretching muscles_2What happens when you work out

The buzz from lifting weights and getting stronger is great, but just imagine this; you have been pumping iron now for several months, you can see your hamstrings are getting stronger, your squats are getting better, you are now doing deeper squats and you feel something tweak in your lower back that’s been occurring for the last few weeks.

You ignore it because you think your hamstrings have gradually got stronger. What you don’t realise is that due to lack of stretching you have now made your hamstrings tighter, to the point they have now started to pull the pelvis down with them.

This is called a posterior pelvic tilt and it changes the curvature of the spine.

Preparation is key

Stretching is not the kind of exercise that will release HGH growth hormone, but it will prepare your body for the exercises that can.

To put it bluntly, if you don’t have an appropriate stretching routine in your fitness program, then you may be risking injury every time you perform anaerobic training.

Yoga for flexibility

Taking up Yoga will compliment any fitness regime and help combatt stiffness, as well as promoting flexibility and good posture.

If you don’t have time to attend a Yoga class, you can order a DVD from Amazon with basic Yoga movements that you can practice from the comfort of your own home. Or simply split and perform for 10 minutes everyday, by stretching the first 5minutes when you wake-up another other 5minutes before you go to sleep every night.

You’ll be surprised the benefit of stretching will have on your body if you continue doing regular stretches over a long period.

Another great way to stretch is by taking up swimming, stretching in the water and swimming in its self is a great way to keep the muscles stretched and supple. 

Connect with Expert Helena Philippou 

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