You love the burn, you love that after class feeling of jelly legs and endorphins BUT have you felt the bliss of stretching out those muscles? The ones that you’ve been working hard all week? The ones that have been neglected sitting behind a desk? Well we’d like to let you know that stretching should be an essential part of your fitness routine!
We cannot stress enough the importance of getting a good stretch into your weekly routine. With the increase in device use and sitting over a laptop/computer more people are complaining of sore backs – lower and thoracic, necks and hunched shoulders, which don’t go away by ignoring them.
According to Harvard Health, “Stretching keeps the muscle flexible, strong and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way”.
Barre, Pilates and yoga all do wonders for improving your strength (among other things), but if you spend most of your time sitting and hunched over a desk and/or doing a number of workouts each week then it’s about time you spent a little more time stretching to aid your mobility.
Let’s look at the two major parts of our body which and why it’s important to stretch as well as strengthen these areas!
THE SPINE AND NECK:
Short and tightened muscles of the back and neck are a direct result of stress, poor posture and habitual movement patterns that, when ignored, perpetuate pain and can lead to long-term damage. Tight muscles pull our spine out of alignment which causes a myriad of issues throughout the body, namely arthritis of the vertebral joints, lower back pain and hip pain among countless others. Tension in the neck and shoulders can be caused by emotional stress and whilst it may also contribute to growing stress, it is often felt as a headache or migraine. A release in these muscles can give much more than just a physiological response; it can give emotional release and reprieve. The spine is the central axis of the body upon which all of our daily movement relies. What could be more important than keeping it supple, mobile and flexible?
THE GLUTES & SPINES:
The hip joint is the largest joint in the body, with one of the largest muscle groups acting to stabilise it: the Glutes. The Glutes are responsible for powering our most basic movements – walking, sitting and standing. Yet tightness here can be incapacitating. Tightness is weakness, and weakness of the Glutes will cause chronic issues for the hip and lower back, disrupting all daily movement. A commonly seen ailment due to Glute tightness is Sciatic pain – a direct result of Piriformis (a muscle in the gluteal region) tightness and weakness.
Hip flexor flexibility is also very important for lower back health, stress management, and the health of our abdominal organs, stomach, gut and reproductive organs.
Tension in the front of the hip can create tension in our gut, impacting optimal digestive function, and contributing to stress and disrupted emotional balance. Stretching the hip flexors and Glutes can help to alleviate menstrual pain and other symptoms, allowing the hormones to flow correctly, correct digestive system function, and relieve hip, lower back and knee pain.
And if you’re not yet convinced, here’s the three major BENEFITS of stretching:
- GREATER POTENTIAL FOR STRENGTH: A flexible muscle has greater potential for strength. The longer the muscle, the greater contraction potential. If it’s tone that you’re looking for, then stretching is a MUST. It is the balance of strength and flexibility that gives the greatest muscle tone.
- ANTI-AGEING: Stretching is a vital key to ageing well and gracefully. An anti-aging tonic that keeps us moving optimally for longer, and therefore living better for longer. It is the key to lasting strength, agility, mobility, bone health, and balance.
- IMPROVES SLEEP: Stretching improves your quality of sleep by relaxing both body and mind tension, bringing the focus to breath and its connection to the body. It is a Yin-Yang principle: optimise your rest and relaxation time to optimise your daily functioning and productivity.
Want to get some more stretching in and make it an essential part of your fitness routine? Get started with our Stretch & Release Program with Meg, a dynamic stretch Program designed to increase your flexibility and mobility.