To stretch, or not to stretch?

An athlest stretching out his legs.

We’ve heard all the excuses – ‘it’s boring,’ ‘I forget’ or ‘I haven’t got the time,’ even Alex and I have been guilty at times! Let’s face it, stretching isn’t exactly the most exciting part of a workout, which is why it is the most overlooked part of a training regime (except those of you who skip leg day – you know who you are!). The truth is, many of us are looking to become more active, healthier and functional people, whether this means being able to lift heavy bags out of a car or keeping up with the kids’ never-ending supply of energy. Becoming stronger and fitter through exercise is great, but what use is that if your lack of flexibility means you struggle to get in the bath?

Flexibility is the ability to move a joint through its full range of motion, leading to less injury, fewer light muscles and preventing other problems such as lower back pain, what’s not to like about that? Our flexibility can be improved by performing many different types of stretches, but the main one we’d recommend to get comfortable with is static stretching, when a muscle is held in a position that exerts a slight pull at the end of its motion. In other words, the usual suspects – hamstring stretch, quadriceps stretch, glute stretch, chest stretch, upper back stretch etc. As well as performing these types of stretches after exercise, they can be performed throughout the day for 15-30 seconds, 3-5 times on either side of the body. We’d recommend finding a nice quiet place though, as you may get some funny looks in the office…

All in all, stretching should not be overlooked just because of the reasons outlined at the beginning. Not only will you have fewer aches and pains, a greater range of movement and better muscle alignment, you’ll be able to perform every day tasks with more ease and less injury. I’m sure we can all find time for that!

(Please see future blog posts for other types of stretches and the benefits these have on the body).