The Importance of Stretching


I have this Utah personal training client who really doesn’t like to take the time to stretch. I have to get a little bit ornery every now and then as I INSIST he takes the time to stretch. On one such occasion, he asked me just how important stretching really is. OH MY GOODNESS!!!! I cannot say this enough (so listen up!) Skipping over your stretching when you’re in a hurry is a big fat no no! You miss out on the benefits of increased flexibility, not to mention that stretching just plain feels good.

Flexibility exercises (I’m just gonna call them stretches) can help prevent musculoskeletal injuries (that’s just a fancy way of saying torn muscles and tendons). We all know that increased flexibility improves your range of motion. It also loosens up your joints and improves your muscular performance.

As we get older, we tend to lose tendon flexibility, which in turn limits our range of motion. Eventually, this limited range of motion messes with our ability to perform our day-to-day activities. No good! Even though the decline in flexibility associated with age is in every one of our  distant futures,  stretching can help delay the oh-so-fabulous tolls that aging takes on our bodies.

Your stretching routine should touch on all  of the major muscle/tendon groups. Each stretching exercise should be held for 30 seconds and should be performed 3 times. Static stretching is what I have the majority of my Utah personal training clients do. For those who are just looking for a way to increase general flexibility, static stretching is sufficient. Static stretches are those where  you slowly stretch the given muscle to a point of tension (but never to a point where it becomes painful), hold the stretch, and then relax and return to your beginning position. (NO BOUNCING!) When you are doing your stretches, just  imagine that you are lengthening away from the center of your body, this means you should be increasing the space inside your joints are not scrunching or smashing them. Stretching is recommended 3-5 times each week. If you have any questions, you should ask for advice from an exercise or Utah personal training specialist for more information on specific stretches for given muscle groups or  certain kinds of stretching such as PNF.

PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, a.k.a. assisted stretching) is amazing, and can help tremendously with extremely tight muscle groups,  however it should only be performed by those trained to do so safely. (Be very picky about who you let aid you with stretching. I’ve seen “certified personal trainers” assist their clients with stretching that were doing it WRONG!!!)

I am begging you  to at least think about and seriously consider the benefits of stretching. Don’t simply skip right over it to save yourself a little bit of time. If you really are running behind, you’re better off ending your Utah personal training, weight training, or cardio early and taking the time to stretch. The end result will be a more flexible and agile you!


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