Many of my clients recently have been requesting more and more yoga and stretching sessions. Some have practiced before and want to deepen their practice with specific goals in mind and others are very active but have never stretched or incorporated it into their fitness regime. Either way, it seems that more and more people are beginning to realise the importance of stretching and how it can benefit our health and daily lives. This is why this week I’d like the share with you some stretching tips and facts.
- Increases blood flow to muscles: Stretching increases blood flow to your muscles that need it the most, it boosts oxygen levels and helps deliver nutrients to your muscles.
- Can decrease your risk of injury: Of course stretching can increase your flexibility, it can also decrease your risk of injury – this is, so long as you don’t do static stretches before exercise. Always make sure you warm up dynamically first, before going into those long static stretches.
- Never bounce when warming up: I know this type of ballistic stretching was big in the 80’s but it’s one of the easiest ways to injure yourself. Instead of using bounce to stretch your body, go for slower, progressive stretches.
- Try PNF stretching: This is one of my fav ways to increase flexibility and range of motion as you get such big results in such little time! PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) stretching consists of both stretching and contracting the muscle you’re targeting. E.g. To stretch your hamstring you may lay on your back and pull your leg towards your body and then contract the muscle by pushing your leg away from your body, resisting against your hands. This would be repeated a few times, holding each action for several seconds. I believe this is the most effective when it comes to immediate gains but should only be done when you’re properly warm.
- The breath helps the stretch: Deep breathing helps your bod and muscles relax by stimulating the Parasympathetic nervous system. Yoga and meditation make good use of this! When the bod is relaxed it lets go of muscle tension. So next time you stretch, don’t forget to use the breath to increase your range for a deeper stretch. Try to do long, deep breaths in through the nose and out through the nose for a more relaxing, beneficial stretch.
I hope this inspires us all to take that little bit of extra time to take a deep breath in and streeeetch. Your bod will thank you for it, I promise!
If you’d like some tips on getting started or have any questions or concerns regarding stretching, I’m only an email away 🙂