Stretch time: sadly, it’s often the activity we skip out on the most, whether it’s the cooldown after class, or all together. Guilty? Yeah, us too. After an intense, sweat-inducing class, dipping out for a 5-minute head start can be majorly tempting! While stretching may not be the most exciting activity on the menu when it comes to exercise, it’s actually one of the most important factors in reaching our fitness goals.
These three reasons will give you new motivation to reintroduce stretching as a “main course” in your workouts!
1. Decreases odds of injury
Stretching helps in more ways than simply improving flexibility. When our muscles are tight, it’s harder for us to perform exercises correctly. It causes decreased mobility ranges, overcompensation of other muscle groups and poor posture, to name a few. After an intense workout or week of workouts, your muscles will begin to develop these types of imbalances. As these imbalances develop, the risk of injuries like pulled muscles or joint pain becomes higher.
2. Promotes Anti-Aging
Yes, you read that right! While stretching won’t fight wrinkles, it will help our bodies feel and act younger for a longer period of time. Our mobility, due to more lengthened and supple muscle fibers, allows our body to stay in top shape for a longer period of time. Do you remember how much more flexible you were as a child? This applies to our adult years. The more we care for our muscles, the longer we can continue to workout and reap the health benefits of active living.
3. Fights Stress
If you’re constantly feeling fatigued and stressed, it may be because of your lack of stretching. Tight muscles cause soreness and knots, which play a major part in our stress levels. Think about it: tight muscles feel tense and hard, making it a not so comfortable experience. A major hack to try in your next stretch session or class is to BREATHE in your stretches. Breathing is as much of a movement as your stretch, and it’s oddly the most important part. Inhale at the top of your stretch, and exhale as you relax your muscles and lean into the stretch. Stay in the stretch for at least 30 seconds while breathing in and out normally. You’ll notice a major increase in your relaxation levels post-stretch!
If staying for the post-class stretch session just isn’t feasible, try swapping one of your lower impact classes for a dedicated stretch class instead. These classes are geared to work on the muscular imbalances that happen as a result of workouts, and will have your body feeling recharged and ready to take on the next steps toward your fitness goals in your regular workouts.
You can find stretch classes in your city on ClassPass by doing a quick search in your app.