The Benefits of Stretching

Why stretch?

As a dancer most of my life, stretching has been a part of my pre and post workout routines for years. Most of the time I didn’t know why we were stretching other than the fact it was a great time for us to socialize, true story. Even after all these years I’ve always stretched after a workout as a habit, but didn’t truly understand the benefits of stretching.

FIVE BENEFITS OF STRETCHING:

1.     Increases your flexibility

2.     Increases your range of motion

3.     Improves your performance in physical activities

4.     Increases blood flow to your muscles

5.     Helps to heal and prevent muscle pain

*there are many other benefits to stretching, I would rank these as my top five.

I realized the true benefit of stretching when training for half marathons and coaching spin classes. Rather than dealing with heating pads or ice packs for sore muscles, stretching and yoga helped alleviate aches and pains, and most importantly, helped prevent injury.

Years ago, while socializing after dance, I would go through the motion of the stretch and not really focus on the importance of the muscle I was stretching. I’ve learned that stretching correctly, with proper form, and FEELING the stretch even though slightly uncomfortable is necessary. (Although, not pushing to the point of pain, but enough so you can feel it)

Let’s be honest, most of us are lacking when it comes to flexibility, unless we put in the time to stretch properly. Flexibility is like the fountain of youth, allowing you feel younger, have better range of motion and improve your physical performance. If you take the time to stretch it will help you feel better and perform better.

Spinning is an excellent exercise for cardiovascular health and for those who like to run, it is a great compliment to running for building lung and muscle endurance. But regular spinning uses muscles that are activated regularly and need to be stretched. So next time you take your spin class, challenge yourself to hold, feel, and focus on form to maximize your stretch. Use the proper form and bend deeper into the pose and hold for 30 - 60 sec to elongate and stretch out the muscle, your body will thank you for it later.

“Stretching can help improve flexibility, and, consequently, range of motion in your joints. Better flexibility may improve your performance in physical activities or decrease your risk of injuries by helping your joints move through their full range of motion and enabling your muscles to work most effectively.”

-Mayo Clinic

Some stretching resources:

One of my favorite Instagram influencers, Charlee Atkins, has some great pre and post workout stretches for indoor cycling:

stretching for indoor cycling (warm up stretch)

https://www.instagram.com/p/BrWGQbZFoZ3/

stretching for indoor cycling (post class)

https://www.instagram.com/p/Br3QZnGlew6/

Renee Hansen, Coach