Stretching: Is it worth the time?

We’ve all heard how important stretching is. It’s been preached about forever and a day. I remember high school gym teachers would run us through some static stretches and that was a loooong time ago! 😉

All joking aside, stretching truly IS all that it’s cracked up to be and yet not everyone does it.

Why? It seems that many people feel it’s not as important as the all powerful ‘workout’ and it is just a waste of valuable time when there is so much to do in a day. Or maybe, it’s viewed as a practice for people who like to do yoga and or need to relax?

Maybe. While these can definitely seem true, it’s still critical to our goals to stretch but not in the way we’ve learned a million years ago in high school! (disclaimer: if you are in high school today and reading this, you might still be doing static stretching as my son has said and he’s in high school today)

 

Anywho (this word cracks me up because it makes absolutely NO sense and yet so many people use it), let’s talk about adding in some dynamic stretching into your program to see how valuable this is to your training. Maybe you don’t know what this is? Totally okay, because I’m here to help 😉

Dynamic stretching is exactly what the name implies. You are actually moving and involving the muscles for the stretch to take place. Static stretching is where you hold a stretch and breath for a given amount of time. (yes, kind of like yoga but not really). Dynamic stretching is perfect for both athletes and weight lifters alike, because it not only stretches the muscles but also helps incorporate a warm-up at the same time due to the movement that is involved. Two for one! No more thinking it’s a time waster (which it isn’t). 😉

 

So let’s clarify why it’s important to incorporate dynamic stretches and how they can help our performance. This way of stretching and moving tells our body that something is coming in terms of a workload being placed upon our bodies and we are better able to prepare for the challenges. It helps get our blood pumping, raises our core temperature and helps to eliminate and reduce muscle stiffness that we may experience. The muscles get flooded with blood and oxygen to help them perform at a higher level in sports and a workout plan. It helps our muscle fibers and connective tissue to become more flexible and improve our overall range of motion.

Not only these, but dynamic stretching also increases our power. A very important aspect to an athlete who needs to utilize explosive movements in their game, or a powerlifter who needs to exert explosive forces against a weight in order to perform and complete an exercise or lift.

I’ve been incorporating this type of warm-up in my clients’ workouts; both online and in person. It’s important to correlate the stretching movements with the workload that will be done. It would be a waste of our valuable time if we focused on upper body stretches only when our training that day involves running and lower body movements. My son played football last year in high school and told me how they warmed up with dynamic stretches. For these athletes, it’s important to incorporate both upper and lower body in their dynamic stretches. Here are some excellent benefits to adding dynamic stretches into your routine:

  • it increases flexibility
  • it increases our range of motion
  • in increases blood flow and body temperature
  • it increases our power output capabilities
  • it helps increase our endurance
  • it improves neuromuscular activation
  • it helps to improve our balance
  • it improves our coordination
  • it decreases our risk of injury

All winning benefits in my book! 😉

So now that you know what it is and why it’s important, let’s talk about how you can add it into your routine. I’ll give you a 3-step process to follow for best results in your next workout:

  1. Warm-up first for about 5 minutes on a machine or you can go for a walk, jog or even light cycling.
  2. Incorporate some dynamic moves based on the work you are getting ready to perform.
  3. Start your workout.

Easy! Now, what the heck are some dynamic moves anyway, right? (thought you’d never ask!) Here is a great video that shows both upper and lower body dynamic stretches. It also gets you warmed up, as you’ll see!

Let’s get started! Need some help with your training and goals? Let’s see if we can work together on some goal setting and success. Just fill in this application and I’ll be in touch shortly!

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