How many of you stretch on a daily basis? Where’s that sea of hands I should be seeing? At least after every workout, right!? Guys! This is important! Stretching is one of the most overlooked fitness activities. I get it, you’re TIRED after running 2 miles, lifting weights, doing that Turbo Kick jazz abs class, or maybe just playing Wii Tennis. But you NEED to start stretching and make a habit of it.
Stretching has many benefits, is one of the best ways to prevent injuries, increase flexibility and balance, and decrease lower back pain. Let me give you my personal story. I’ve had to keep myself from running for a while now and it is NOT fun. I know, I’m one of those crazy people that really loves running but it’s hard to get myself on the cross trainer instead of the rush of the treadmill. I made the mistake of not only increasing my mileage too fast AND running outside on cement but I also didn’t do enough stretching. Now my Achilles heal is super angry at me.
There’s also been much debate about WHEN to stretch. Before you go show me your Google results on why your opinion is right, listen to what my dance instructor told me in High School: “think about a carrot that’s been in the fridge, you take it out and when you try to bend it, it snaps. But if you warm up the carrot, get it to room temperature, you’ll find that it will bend more freely and not tear.” Kind of hard to argue with that logic. This is why I truly believe it’s best to stretch AFTER you workout. Don’t get that confused with not warming up, because that’s important as well. But if you bounce and pull your muscles before they’re ready you’re going to be sore and not in a good way.
When stretching make sure to take it slowwwwwly, hold each stretch and make sure to do them equally on both sides. I’m not going to spend a ton of time researching what stretches are the best, fact is, some might work better for some than others. Here are some stretches that I do on a regular basis.