‘Never forget to stretch’ – you hear this all the time by your fitness trainer. But have you ever thought why is it so important to stretch? Sure, you’re aware that if you don’t stretch, you may hurt yourself. But what else?
Stretching – why is it so important?
Stretching or warm up is the process of elongating the muscles and preparing your body for a workout. It is called warm up for obvious reasons: you warm your body up for what follows. By now, you got the idea why trainers never skip the warm up and motivate you to never forget to stretch if you’re working out at home. And that’s why you might get hurt: your muscles are not prepared for any physical activity without a warm up.
In addition, you must also stretch after the workout. The reason is simple: after a long, exhausting workout, you need to relax and cool down. Your body needs to understand that now it is coming back to normal, and there’s a pace shift.
Note to self: Never forget to stretch, but also don’t forget to breathe. Inhale in and exhale out a lot while you’re stretching. That’s actually the point, right? To give oxygen to your muscles and recuperate them.
Tips for warm ups and cool downs
Usually, you can use the same stretch for warm up and cool down.
One important note: start by stretching your neck. It’s essential, but most of the trainers forget all about it and skip it. So, start by moving your head left-right, up-down, round left-round right. Doing this, you also start warming up your shoulders.
Next, hamstring stretch. You do it either with one leg bent, like on this picture or with both legs extended. You know the stretch, right?
And this one too, butterfly groin.
Next… shoulder stretch. It’s quite simple: you need to pull your opposite elbow towards your opposite shoulder and press.
Now, we’ve finished sitting. Let’s do downward dog to stretch our back, legs and arms.
And finish with the runner’s stretch.
Not so difficult, right? Once you’ve done with your stretch, you’re set to do whatever type of exercising, running included.