If there’s one thing that I never get tired of banging on about, it is the fact that I absolutely love stretching. There’s a rare feeling of happiness and contentment in the moment when a stretch is doing its job and you can just feel your body relaxing. And, looking at my cats, I know that I’m not the only one who thinks stretching is serious business.
And yes, it is serious. If you like working out regularly, as I do, one of the first things that you have to grapple with is stiffness. Sure, weight training will leave your targeted muscles pumped (and you’ll feel great). But you need to stretch afterwards for your muscles, ligaments and joints to relax. Because no matter how good you look, if you’re stiff and hurting, that’s no fun.
Another reason you should be stretching regularly is to avoid injuries. This follows on from the point above. If you don’t have a stretching routine as a cool down after your workout, you’re asking for trouble. Doing this increases your muscles’ range of motion, brings you back to your resting heart rate and is also very important for restoring your normal blood circulation. Your muscles need stretching while they’re still “warm” after your workout.
But even for the days that you’re not working out, you should do stretching routines that keep you flexible. The human body isn’t designed to be stiff and hurting. It’s designed for movement, so even if you have a desk job that requires you to sit at a desk for hours on end, flexibility routines make sure that you’re loose and limber. It is also worth noting that maintaining your body’s flexibility is important as you grow older. Not only does this ensure that your muscles work better, but it’s also great for your posture, and for preventing chronic pain. With this in mind, here are a couple of great flexibility routines that you should do regularly each week.
AskDoctorJo has to be one of the best YouTube channels that deal with stretches for pain relief and flexibility. In this video, she goes through a simple, yet extremely effective, full-body stretching routine. It’s a follow-along with detailed instructions, so it should be easy enough to do. Believe me you’ll feel great once you finish.
If you’re only starting out on your fitness road, or even if you’re not into exercising but would certainly want all that stiffness and pain to go away, try this 30-minute flexibility routine from MadFit. Even if you can’t reach the full range of motion at your first try, go as far as you can. Over time, as your flexibility increases, you’re going to feel extremely happy you tried this.