Make time to reach for your toes!
Stretching is hugely beneficial to people of all ages, once again something that everyone would benefit from doing. You don’t necessarily need any equipment you just need to make the time to do it. You could do a simple stretching routine or perhaps give Pilates or yoga a try depending on your interests and experience. Many people may only start to do it when something starts to hurt but prevention is better than cure and who wouldn’t like to feel a little more flexible.
Benefits of stretching
There are four different types of stretching: ballistic, dynamic, proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, and static stretching. I could bore you with the detail but let’s keep it simple. Everyone could incorporate some stretching into their daily routine here are some of the benefits that you may get should you start stretching regularly. Stretching can:
1. Improve flexibility
2. Reduce muscle soreness
3. Improve stamina and muscular strength
4. Improve alignment, posture, appearance and self-image
5. Allow good muscular and joint mobility.
Ideally you want to stretch your entire body. Be methodical and treat it like any other workout, make a note of your routine and perhaps make notes on the ease of a stretch or how far you can go. If you stretch in a random fashion chances are you will forget what you have done and more importantly you may end up missing an area entirely. Planning also allows for you to focus on a particular area if there is a weakness or something that you want to improve.
This discipline has very much entered the mainstream over the past few years. When done correctly it offers many fitness benefits. With the correct form, mental focus and connection between the body and mind you can see fantastic results. It is something that can be done at home or in a class environment. Form is key so make sure you get someone to show you the moves before you get started. If you’ve never tried it before you may think that it seems like an easy workout that may not challenge you but that is certainly not the case, however fit you may be, you can be pushed to your limits in this controlled environment. Core engagement is a fundamental value of this discipline and something that can transfer into daily life and other types of training or sports. If you are looking for all round fitness then it is definitely something that you should try.
Yoga is another mainstream discipline that can improve your flexibility. As well as flexibility many people use it to aid stress relief as well as to improve their health and physical fitness. It includes practicing postures, breathing exercises and meditation. With a focus on body, mind and spirit it is a form of exercise that many people feel huge benefit from. Again it is advisable to get guidance before starting yoga as in order to experience the full benefit and enjoyment of it, it is important to know what you are doing.
5 stretches for you to try at home:
1. Standing hamstring stretch: bend over, try to reach the floor with your hands and hold.
2. Quadriceps stretch: hold one foot in your hand bringing it up behind you, bring your knees together and hold.
3. Chest/back stretch: bend your arms to 90 degree angles (one up pointing up and one pointing down) then push back as though you are standing against a wall, hold and then swap over.
4. Shoulder stretch: bring one arm across the body and hold it in position with your other arm, hold and then change over.
5. Full body stretch: reach up to the ceiling as much as you can, stretching from the floor right up to the ceiling, you should be able to feel the stretch through your whole body and hold.
These stretches are static so try and hold each position for at least 20-30 seconds before releasing.
You may want to start with a few simple stretches or perhaps you like the idea of giving pilates or yoga a try. Any or all are highly recommended to try. You can start to improve your flexibility, posture and strength today, it won’t take long for you to feel the benefits and touch your toes again!
Any questions get in touch!
Vicki is a Personal Trainer, Coach and Swimming Teacher with the aim of helping others achieve their health and fitness goals.