We talked to our expert personal trainer in CT about stretching.
First, we asked her what exactly is stretching?
Our personal trainer in CT replied, “stretching is a form of physical movement where a specific muscle –or muscle group—is flexed to improve the elasticity of the muscle or tendon. This will allow the person stretching to gain better muscle control, range of motion and flexibility.”
“The problem,” continues our personal trainer in CT, “is that not many people spend the time to stretch out those tight muscles. They feel it is a corner that they can legitimately cut, because they wrongfully believe that stretching is not necessary or that important.”
So, how many of you spend the time during or after your workout to stretch out your tight muscles?
Our CT personal trainer says all exercisers should make it a regular part of their routines.
“Stretching helps to keep muscles flexible, strong and healthy. You need to maintain flexibility in order to maintain a good range of motion within your joints.”
She continues, “Without stretching, your muscles tighten and shorten, and when they are called upon to be used during exercise or daily life they will be weak and unable to extend all the way. This will, in turn, hinder your movements. In addition, as you grow older you will want to maintain good flexibility in your hips and hamstrings. Healthy muscles also help with balance, which can prevent a fall.”
According to our CT personal trainer, increased flexibility and joint range of motion will improve your daily performance in virtually everything—from walking to cleaning windows and vacuuming to playing with your kids or grandkids. Furthermore, stretching increases blood flow to your muscles, which results in improved circulation.
Now that we know how important stretching is, we asked our CT personal trainer when the best time to stretch is.
“The best time to stretch is either during your workout or after,” says our expert personal trainer in CT. “The American College of Sports recommends that you stretch each major muscle group at least two times a week for 60 seconds per exercise.”
She continues, “If you spend all day sitting at a desk, stretching can help reduce and reverse the back pain and bad posture that goes along with it. It is recommended that you take two minutes every hour to stand from your desk and stretch to help reverse the effects.”
Another great time to stretch, she tells us, is during your workout. If you do not have time after, spend your rest time, in between sets, stretching. Stretching during or after a fitness routine can help with next day muscle soreness and tightness.
It is important not to stretch cold muscles, so you should not stretch before you work out. What you should do instead is warm up your muscles, first, with a quick five or ten minute walk.
“When you stretch” says our CT personal trainer, “you will want to hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds, and do not bounce at all.”
“You should feel tension– but not pain– when you are holding the stretch. If you are feeling pain that could be a sign of injury, if that occurs, be sure to contact your medical professional.”
Improving your flexibility takes time. You are not going to see improvement after stretching one or two times. It takes many months to get muscles tight, so it is going to take months to get them untightened.
Make sure you continue to stick with it, and continue working on loosening up and flexing those tight muscles. It only takes a few extra minutes a day, and your body will thank you for it later. Keep stretching!