It’s not a ‘stretch’ to say that flexibility training is the most overlooked component of fitness training.  In fact, making sure that there is balance within your routine including cardiovascular exercise, strength, attention to flexibility, and additional recovery time can be a challenge.  The day-to-day exercise routine grind and aging can wreak havoc on the body so it’s important to intentionally give your body a little love by including stretching as part of your fitness regimen. 

Regular stretching can offer many benefits in improving performance as well as reducing the likelihood of injury.  It also offers other benefits including improving circulation, reducing stress at the joints, improving range of motion and posture, reducing inflammation and improving quality of life.

If you’re new to adding stretching to your routine, take it slow. Just like other exercises, your body needs time to get used to the stretches you’re performing.

Great news??  You can stretch any time during the day.

On days you exercise, aim for 5-8 minutes of dynamic stretching prior to your activity.  Dynamic stretching includes active movements that don’t require you to hold a stretch at the end point.  They simply get your body ready for the workout to come.  At the end of your workout, do another 5 to 10 minutes of static stretching.  These stretches should be held for at least 30 seconds without any bouncing.

On days when you aren’t exercising, still plan to schedule at least 5 to 10 minutes of time for stretching. This can help improve flexibility and reduce muscle tightness and pain.  Include them in the morning as you rise or right before bedtime.

When stretching, focus on the major areas of your body that help with mobility, such as your calves, hamstrings, hip flexors, and quadriceps. For upper-body relief, try moves that stretch the shoulders, neck, and lower back.

Keep in mind, it’s important to never stretch to the point of discomfort or over-stretch.  As with many forms of exercise, moderation is key in receiving the true benefit.

Here are some great stretches to implement at the end of your next workout.  Be sure to hold each for 30 seconds.

-Child’s Pose

-Figure 4

-Runner’s Lunge

-Adductor Opener

-Seated Criss-Cross

Leah Seacrest, Corporate Vice President of Fitness & Operations at REGYMEN Fitnesshas over 25 years of experience in the fitness industry as a fitness instructor, director and studio owner.