Before I launch into my general rule of thumb, first I want to talk about WHY you should stretch.
When you exercise your contracting muscles effectively shorten. In order to prevent tightness (aka return them to pre-exercise length) it’s important to complete a short stretch as part of your exercise plan. If you have imbalances due to excessive tightness in certain muscle groups, it becomes important to spend additional time stretching these areas to prevent injury & feel your best (ie. to achieve optimal length).
Here is my general rule of thumb about WHEN: stretch when your muscles are warmed up & you’re likely to do it. This is all about building it into your routine. Not sure how to do that?
Here are my 3 top tips:
- Build it into your workout. You might find that incorporating a stretch as part of your cool down is the most effective way to ensure it actually happens. This stretch should be held for 15-20s minimum and should be gentle. Simply go to the point where you feel tension and back off slightly. When the goal is to improve flexibility the stretches should be held longer & possibly with repetitions. For example 30-60 second holds and repeating each stretch 1-2x. For a simple head to toe stretching routine check out this video.
- Sneak it in. Each time you sit down for an extended period set an alarm for 60 minutes. When the alarm goes off complete 1-2 stretches. Over the course of the typical working day you’ll get 3-5 stretch breaks in! Stuck at your desk for these stretches? Here are a few to help you do things a bit more covertly.
- Commit to a regular stretching practice. If you’re looking for improved flexibility you may also consider incorporating focused flexibility work 1-2x per week. This could include a yoga class you attend or using video based yoga at home. I love attending a live class, but videos tend to be what works best for my life! If you’re curious to learn about the videos I use 2x per week in my personal fitness I’d be happy to share! Just send me a PM.
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