So why is stretching important? It allows your body to move like it's meant to! The answer to that question is also pretty obvious if you've ever pulled a muscle. Ouch! Even despite my stretching habits, I've pulled my share but I blame it on pushing myself too hard during high school sports. Let's be honest, telling a competitive teenager to "lay off it" for a few weeks is like talking to a wall. Stretching also allows fluids and to flow through your body more easily. There's a reason they tell you to drink lots of water after you get a massage. By releasing tension points, the toxins and were previously stuck are able to get flushed away and out of your body. Water helps this process along and replenishes what was lost.
Here's the super important thing that no one tells you - you have to relax your muscles to stretch, not push them. How do you do that? Well, try this. Stand up with your legs together and straight. Reach your arms straight above your head, separate them so their out to your sides and then bend at the hips and reach to the ground. At this point, I'm guessing your back and/or hamstrings are probably doing their best to fight against you. Notice this. Now, instead of fighting them, try to consciously relax your hamstrings. Relax your lower back and try to let it spread wide. Alternately, you can just go limp in your lower back (keep your knees straight) and hang like a rag doll. Relax your neck too. And then stay there for a minute or two. I bet you already increased your flexibility just by doing that.
|First two are front view. Last one is a side view. Man, that is one low budget visual aid! :)|
Well that's great for you but I'm just inflexible! Does that sound like you? It sure sounds like the hubs. For you, stretching is even more important. Humor me and try this experiment: Every day for 30 days, stretch for 5 minutes. This will likely work well if you do it at the same time every day so you don't forget, like when you wake up in the morning, during your lunch, after dinner, or before bed. I promise that after 30 days, you'll be surprised at how much more flexible you have become.