Don’t Forget to Stretch!

Why Flexibility is Important to your Fitness Routine

Many people think of aerobic activity and strength training when they think of fitness. But, there is another important element to fitness that is often neglected: flexibility!

Why is flexibility important? Being flexible enhances all other aspects of exercise! It allows for greater range in motion, improved balance and posture, releases muscle tension and soreness, and decreases the risk of injury.

A person’s flexibility depends on their genetics, gender, age, body shape, and level of activity, but it can always be improved with regular stretching. Here are some tips to help you stretch safely:

  • Try stretching for 30 minutes three times per week

  • Remember to follow all aerobic activity with a few minutes of stretching. Your muscles will thank you later!

  • Don’t bounce while stretching; this increases risk for injury. Instead, hold the stretches for 15-30 seconds

  • Don’t hold your breath; breathe normally as you stretch

  • Try a class like yoga or tai chi which focus on improving balance and flexibility

Here are a few stretches to get you started. Try these out and let us know how different your body feels!

Downward Facing Dog: stretch hamstrings, calves, back, chest, shoulders

Begin with your hands and feet on the floor. Raise your hips so that they are pointing upwards and your body is in an upside down v position. Push your hands into the floor and feel the stretch in the back of your legs.

Mini Cobra: stretch your chest, abdominals

Lay down on your stomach and place your hands on the floor under you shoulders. Keeping you hips on the floor, press your hands down and lift your head and chest up.

Butterfly: stretch your groin, hips, lower back

Sit on the floor with the soles of your feet together and your knees bent on each side. Holding your feet with your hands, move your knees down towards the floor and lower your upper body down toward your feet.