Stretching. Why it’s a MUST?!
Stretching. Why it's a MUST?!
By Ross Andrews, Body Be Well
The least important part of everybody’s workout is stretching. It doesn’t burn fat, make our muscles bigger and stronger or give us that endorphin high, and it’s really boring just lying there holding a stretch for more then 15 seconds. What if I told you it’s just as important as strength and cardio training? I have yet to train one person, me included, who doesn’t have some form of muscle or joint aches and pains. A great deal of these are the result of our lifestyles shortening our muscles and tendons and in turn pressing onto the nerves running through them, the most common being the sciatic nerve in our leg.
I recently ran a six-week stretching class, one hour per week, and the feedback I received from the participants was amazing. Not only did everyone feel physically better in terms of their joints and muscles because they all improved their range of motion, but also everybody slept better, especially on the night of the stretch class. It really surprised me how much people got out it.
Stretching doesn’t have to be painful or boring. I find for myself that I enjoy and get the most out of my stretching when I stretch in a quiet place and can clear my mind and relax. This lets my muscles relax and I can breathe into each stretch. If this doesn’t appeal to you, stretch while you’re unwinding watching TV.
Stretching the whole body every day would be great, but if you don’t have time, my top three stretches to try and do every day are:
COBRA STRETCH – this stretches out the back by moving us into extension. I like this stretch as we tend to spend most of the day in flexion (leaning forwards). This stretch helps reverse the effects of this.
>Lie down flat on your stomach, place your hands slightly forward of your chest, push your hips and feet into the ground, and taking a large breath in push your upper body up. Hold this for 10 seconds before releasing back to the floor. Repeat 10 times.
GLUTES STRETCH – the glutes (or buttocks) are a muscle that, because we sit on it, becomes compressed and then leads to issues in the back, hips and knees.
>Lie down flat on your back, place your feet against a wall with your knees bent at 90 degrees. Place your left foot on your right knee and lift your right foot off the wall towards your chest until you feel that nice stretch in your glute. Repeat on the other side.
QUAD STRETCH– the quad stretch is a common stretch. We have all done it in PE classes at school or at the end of a fitness class. I like stretching the quads as, like the glutes, they do a huge amount of work for us all day long and I find that stretching them out also helps keep my back loose. This stretch can be done either standing or lying on your side. I prefer lying on my side as you can concentrate more on the stretch and less on balancing.
>Bend one leg behind you and grab hold of the top of that foot. Gently pull your heel into your buttocks while pushing the hip of the bent leg forwards and keeping your body in a straight position. Roll over and repeat on the other side.
Happy stretching everybody.
For your free beginners stretch chart, head over to our website.
Diana Tencic and Ross Andrews believe that eating well and exercising well are key to healthy, strong bodies. Their business ‘Body Be Well’ combines both food coaching and personal training in one location, to help you achieve your goals in a holistic manner
Body Be Well are a part of the Nourish Melbourne Community. They offer a free 30 minute fitness consultation for new members and $15 off their three week workshop packages. Click here to find out more about our partnership, or click here to find out more about becoming a Nourish Melbourne Member.