Hi beautiful, lovely, oh-so-fierce, rad-mamma jammas!
Today, I’m showin’ hows ta fit mo’ stretchin’ into that radtastic life of yours. Yowz- suh.
STRETCHING – You may be wondering…
Why should I stretch, and how do I even make time for one more healthy ‘supposed-to’ do?
Lovelies, stretching is a big must-do, and I am guilty of not understanding its importance until recently, as I’ve been studying for my NASM Personal Training Certification. Most information for this post is sourced from my mondo textbook.
Why You Should Give A Rip About Stretching
The primary, overall picture is that inflexibility is a BIG DOMINO that ultimately leads to injury, like-a so.
- Tight muscles lead to —->
- Muscle imbalances which lead to —->
- Poor posture which lead to —->
- Improper movement which leads to —->
- INJURY i.e. PAIN, SUFFERING, DISCOMFORT, & DECREASED OPTIONS FOR RAD LIFE STUFF
If you neglect stretching long enough, your body will respond in 1 to 3 ways
- Altered-Length Tension Relationship – meaning, when specific muscles should be the same length, one becomes shortened, and another lengthened.
- Altered Force-Couple Relationships – meaning, where certain muscles should be the dominant power source for a movement, another muscle has to take over because of muscle imbalance.
- Altered Arthokinematics – meaning altered joint motion, where due to muscle imbalance, your joints can no longer move in the proper range of motion.
After studying flexibility training, I started to recognizing all the muscle imbalances creating poor posture in many people around me – hunched shoulders, anterior pelvic tilts (exaggerated low-back arch), and various distortions. I also started noticing my own! I tend to track my knees inward when performing a squat, and I round my shoulders often (especially in plank).
HOW DO YOU AVOID ALL THAT CRAZINESS?
ANSWER: FLEXIBILITY TRAINING
Here’s the rub. Static stretches need to be held for at least 30 seconds in order to increase flexibility and correct muscle imbalances. And, 1-3 sets are recommended.
WHY AT LEAST 30 SECONDS?
In short, there are opposite receptors in our bodies. One set of receptors, the muscle spindles, tell our muscles to tighten when they’ve reach a point of tension -this is good, we don’t want to tear anything, but our muscles need to relax if they’re going to lengthen (increase range of motion), and that’s where the golgi tendon organ comes in. This set of receptors tells the muscles to relax, so that they can lengthen. Our body initially reacts to the tension on the muscle but tightening up, and it takes about 30 seconds for the golgi tendon organs to override the muscle spindles, and relax the muscles.
WHO GOT TIME FO’ THAT?
I know, right? Not only are we supposed to fit in a workout, but now we have to hold each stretch for 30 seconds to avoid muscle imbalances?
Yes. But, as always, we are focusing on solutions, NOT PROBLEMS. We can make this do-able, and happily sustainable, because it truly is.
Sidenote: There are three types of stretching, STATIC, ACTIVE & DYNAMIC. We are discussing STATIC stretching, because it’s required to increase flexibility. The others are ideal for pre and post-workout prep and recovery, and more suited for people without or with resolved muscle imbalances. Start with static stretching and foam rolling, and move forward from there.
Despite how it may seem, I am a firm believer in being present, but sometimes, you have to get two things done at once. To me, multi-tasking makes sense is when one thing is more passive (possibly busy work), and the other thing is much more mind engaging. (example: cleaning while listening to podcasts, walking the dog while talking on the phone).
I use these stretches, in this way, almost every day. In fact, as I am typing now, I am on a yoga mat in pigeon pose, lengthening my hip-flexors and glutes. When I don’t stretch regularly, I feel the difference in my daily life, and in my workouts – I can feel a decreased range of motion, my muscles feel tighter and shorter (and I feel shorter in height!), and most movements are less comfortable.
By stretching while accomplishing stuff (planning, writing, communicating, scheduling etc), I can fit a lot more flexibility training into my life. Countless post-workouts at the gym, I feel guilty leaving the kids in the daycare any longer, and tell myself I will stretch at home, but rarely do. My body was becoming tighter and tighter. Now, with just 10 minutes of ‘multi-stretching,’ my lower body feels so much better, my range of motion has improved, and my form with all activities is better. No injuries here. Here are my faves…
IMPORTANT NOTE: With many of these stretches, it can be easy to hunch your shoulders and/or round your back. If maintaining good posture in these positions for a long time is not yet do-able for you, only hold the stretch for 30 seconds, and move on. Once done, change to a seated or standing position. You don’t want to be lengthening one muscle, while tightening another. #silly
We look forward to out #fitfam time together every week. Thanks for all the inspiration, support, motivation and know-how on making life greater. #fitfamlove You are all seriously AMAZING.
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Questions for the day
- How do you fit in stretching?
- Do you need to increase your flexibility training?
- What’s your favorite stretch?
- How do you feel after a good stretch?
Much love, Jessica Joy