We know, it can be a bit boring and a bit uncomfortable. But trust us, including even a few minutes of stretching in your day can make a bit difference! Read on for our top tips to get more stretching in to your day and a super cute cat GIF to inspire you.
Before we get started, there's something we need to talk to you about...
Stretching vs Warming Up - they are not the same thing!
If you only take one thing away from this blog, please let it be that stretching is not the same as warming up!
I know right! Here's the deal...
Your warm up should be dynamic (moving) and be done before you workout. A dynamic warm up helps to get your body ready to train and aims to reduce the risk of injury of sudden movement on cold muscles.
A dynamic warm up can include things like jogging on the spot, leg swings, hip openers etc.
Sound confusing? Check out this great YouTube clip from The Movement Fix below explaining a 5 minute dynamic warm up.
Stretching is static (still) and done after your workout and can help your body to recover and reduce tension built up during training. If you’re anything like us, you should definitely stretch more!
We get it…stretching can be a bit boring and it’s kind of uncomfortable, but trust us, if you stick with it for a bit, your body and your mind will love you for it!
So now we've cleared up that stretching and warming up are actually different, here's why we should all stretch more...
To motivate you to give stretching more of a go, here are some of the fantastic benefits that can be felt from gently stretching regularly:
Reduced muscle tension
Increased range of movement in the joints
Enhanced muscular coordination
Increased circulation of the blood to various parts of the body
Increased energy levels (resulting from increased circulation)
Remember: How flexible and mobile we are starting from can be genetic, some of us have to work harder at this than others. Start slowly and work your way in to longer stretches.
Now that you're keen to include more stretching in your life, here are our top tips to get it done:
Tip 1: Make it part of the process by factoring in time to stretch after each time you train. Build your warm up and your stretch in to your full workout rather than just stretching ‘if you have time’.
We love this YouTube from The Run Experience that talks you through a great post movement stretch routine.
Tip 2: Aim to hold each stretch for around 30 secs give it a break and then repeat. For example, stretch your left leg for 30 seconds, repeat on your right then go back to stretch your left again.
You will always get a little bit further in your stretch the second time, adding to the benefits.
Tip 3: Ease in to your stretch gently. It might be slightly uncomfortable but it shouldn’t be excruciating. Only go to where feels right for your body. Don’t ‘bounce’ in your stretching!
Tip 4: Stretch throughout your day to release tension, give your brain a break and re-set. Taking a moment away from your desk for a few minutes of stretches can make a big difference. Check this clip out for a guided stretch you can do sitting down during the day.
Tip 5: Stretch while you're waiting! Waiting for the kettle? Waiting for the lights? Waiting for the train? Waiting for the printer? Waiting for the microwave Throw in a little stretch!
Make the most of those little moments and sneak in a stretch. Focus on one muscle region per 'moment' to get the most out of the stretch. For example, focus on your neck, calves, hamstrings or arms etc.