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!
Enjoy getting stretchy!