Importance of Stretching

Stretching – it’s so underrated. Most of us stretch out a little before we go for a run, or perhaps after an intense HIIT cla s, but we don’t do it enough! Stretching is something you want to start your day with, to warm you up and get your muscles ready for action. Your body has been in a state of slumber all night, so leaping out of bed at the sound of your alarm can be, well, alarming for your body and can actually cause injury through sudden or awkward movements. And by sudden, I am talking about the first things you do when you wake up in the morning: getting out of bed, bending down to pick something up, brushing your teeth even – they’re all really simple movements and if you make the wrong move then you can easily strain a muscle that isn’t quite ready for it. The stretch allows your muscle fibres to lengthen, giving you a greater range of movement as you ease your body into a particular pose.

Basic stretching provides a whole host of benefits including:

1. Relaxation

We all know that yoga has many benefits and relaxation is one of them, particularly with Hatha yoga. So try a few stretches, do a series of yoga poses and you’ll see how good it feels to hold those poses as you move deeper into each pose.

2. Reduced muscle tension

Tight muscles mean tense muscles, and you want to loosen them up a little and let them relax. By stretching them out, you release this tension on your body, which will also help with overall range and mobility.

3. Increased circulation

As you stretch out your muscles, you increase blood flow to those areas, pushing more oxygen-rich blood around the body and to the extremities, which is always a good thing.

4. Improved posture

When your muscles are stiff, you might find yourself hunching, or slouching, or contorting your body to favour that muscle tension. When you stretch it all out, you lengthen the fibres, relaxing them, allowing you to bring your body back into a more natural alignment, which is great for your posture.

5. Reduced stiffness and soreness

Nobody likes that muscle ache you feel the day after an intensive session at the gym, so remember to stretch before and after your workout as this may help to alleviate the effects – though this is debated, so often a gentle warmup is also advised.

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