Ahh stretching. It’s usually the first part of an exercise session to be skipped if you’re running low on time, or ignored because ‘it’s not really necessary’. I was one of those people who used to creep out of pump class during the stretches so I could race home and enjoy an extra 5mins in the shower. Not anymore!
I have come to realise through Pilates that there are so many benefits to stretching:
Helps improve flexibility (increases your range of motion)
Assists in correct posture by lengthening tight muscles that pull areas of the body away from their intended position
Potential to decrease injury by preparing muscles for work before activity. Note that I always have a brief warm up (light walk, jog etc) before I stretch as I find stretching much easier and gentle on the body when the body is woken up and warm
Increases blood and nutrient supply to muscles, thereby possibly reducing muscle soreness
Pilates is fantastic because you are often stretching as you exercise, but I choose to dedicate a whole workout to stretching each week. I usually stretch when I am not feeling 100%, or when I am simply not up to a full workout.
Try and work stretching into your workout (as recovery) or at least 5-10min at the end of your session. If possible, try a full session of stretching. You can fit this in while you are watching TV, waiting for dinner etc. I promise you will notice a huge difference in your body!
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