I have to admit that I am not the most flexible person, but it’s something I’d really like to work on. When I’m in decent shape, like I am right now from kickboxing, I can bend over and touch my toes more easily, but that’s about as far as it goes. I generally stretch before and after a workout, but haven’t taken the time to really stretch well or give yoga or pilates a chance long term.
Stretching may seem like a simple task, but it’s actually really important to good health. When you stretch your muscles they are elongated as much as possible and by doing this you ensure that the muscle stays flexible. However, if this is not done, the muscle can become stiff and short making injuries much more likely (as muscles may tear instead of stretch when used).
Stretching also helps to improve the range of motion for muscles. In my case, I’ve noticed that after doing kickboxing regularly and as well as related stretches in class, I can kick much higher than I ever could before (almost to the top of my head!). In class, I work and stretch my muscles in different ways with kicking. Really, where else would I do this in my everyday life without losing friends?
The circulatory system also benefits from stretching as doing so improves the passage of blood going to and from the heart. This is good not only for organs relying on this circulation, but for your mental state as well. In addition, Natural News reports a study showing that trunk flexibility is actually related to flexibility of arteries in middle aged or older people. Stiff arteries often occur before heart disease so checking flexibility could be very important.
Since I still have a long way to go with flexibility, I plan to commit to a yoga or combination pilates/yoga class at my local gym and can’t wait to start noticing the results. Do you already incorporate stretching into your daily life or exercise routine? Please feel free to share with us! Or, if you’d like to get started, here are some quick tips for proper stretching and how to correctly combine it with a workout.
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