If Nothing Else, Just Stretch!

Hi friends, happy Friday!

Fridays are the best, aren’t they? With a promise of two days of late sleep-ins, they are a much needed respite from the rest of the week and early-morning online schooling. Can’t wait to send kids to schools again, post vaccination of course!

These days, yoga has become a way of life and Instagram a source of all sorts of guidance as well as inspiration. Seeing other people doing what they love doing, despite all odds, is a great motivation, be it online or the people I see/know.

While doing yoga, half the time goes into warm-ups and the rest into the flow which if you ask me is mostly stretching and holding those stretches. Everyday, I try to stretch a little more, bend a little more, hold a little more…and breathe through it all – that’s what it is for me. Of course, yoga includes a lot more than just stretching…more than physical postures…but stretch you will, in any case!

Yoga or not, it is important to stretch a little everyday. Even if for 15-20 minutes, even if you don’t have time and especially then! When you have no time or energy for any sort of physical activity, stretch is the least one could do.

I used to do stretching post workouts in gym also. However, as I started building muscles (and getting stronger!), I knew I didn’t want to lose my flexibility in the process and I found yoga the best remedy to maintain it. I won’t lie, I started for balance and flexibility however discovered much more along the way! Thus started the next phase of my fitness journey which is an equal combination of gym and yoga both. Then came meditation but that is unfortunately still very irregular.

Why Stretch?

  • To improve flexibility and for better joint/muscle movement
  • Posture correction
  • Prevention of injuries or reducing risk of injuries
  • Reduced muscle soreness or stiffness
  • Relieving post exercise aches/DOMS
  • To improve physical performance
  • To increase blood circulation
  • Decrease the risk of low-back pain
  • For stress relief
  • For calming benefits

A Myth

Believe it or not, stretching is not necessarily a warm-up activity. A warm –up is much advised before you stretch as stretching with cold muscles can lead to injury. Best to start stretching after a bit of warm-up.

The Ideal Way To Stretch

Whether plain stretching or stretching before a workout, best would be to take a short jog to warm up the muscles and then stretch. One can follow up with a workout or any physical activity post that.

In gym, that is why we do cross trainer or treadmill the first thing – to warm up. In Yoga, we do sukshma vyayama (simple joint movements) before we start the stretches and other asanas.

Keep In Mind

  • One can focus on sore or tight muscles first while stretching so they become loose and less rigid with the increased blood flow, if needed
  • Swift movements or bouncing should be avoided to prevent injuries
  • Whether you hold your stretches or do them in sets is up to you and your fitness level. It is always better to start with a short hold and less sets and then gradually increase both
  • Do not overwork an injured muscle if you are already injured

In The End

Stretching is a great way to take a mini-break from a hectic day or a desk-job, to recharge and strengthen you body and mind. All you need to do is to take 20-30 minutes everyday for just stretching if nothing else. Try doing it for 3 days a week at least. In case you wish to increase the flexibility or range of motion, you need to be more regular with stretching.

However, make sue you are stretching right. Stretching incorrectly or making incorrect movements can be harmful. Remember to do everything slowly and gradually.

I hope you found today’s post useful. Do share around if you did. Join me on Instagram on the link below for lots of tips, info and motivation.

https://www.instagram.com/jillofmanytrades_blogger/

Till next Friday

Namaste, Health & Peace