So what makes up a fully rounded fitness programme? Well you know we do ‘cardio’ work to build up our aerobic capacity and burn fat, we do body weight training to help maintain our lean muscle tissue and build our strength and that’s it right? WRONG
At the end of every session we cool down and STRETCH. Flexibility is as important a factor in a fully rounded training plan as ‘cardio & strength’.
Keeping your body flexible helps to improve posture, mentally & physically relax you, release muscle tension and soreness and reduce your risk of injury.
As you often see when you have a go at Yoga, some people are more naturally flexible than others, so genetics, age, gender and body shape DO have an impact on flexibility as does ones level of regular physical activity. Flexibility can diminish with age and lack of physical activity.
Stretching should always be performed after the body has been warmed up slightly by walking, or doing dynamic moves like arm swings, leg swings, hip circles etc. At the start of a workout, dynamic stretches should be performed and at the end we do static stretching.
With stretches at the end of a workout, you should hold them for 15-30 seconds and repeat 2 -3 times. NEVER bounce a stretch, stretch if your muscles aren’t warm, stretch too far or hold your breath while stretching.
Try never to skip the post workout stretch or zip off out of your class without stretching because you ‘don’t have time’ Even just a few minutes of stretching after a workout is better than not stretching at all.
Add more stretching to your day by stretching after a hot shower or bath or doing a big reach up stretch when you get up in the morning. Alternatively, if you are feeling stiffer than normal, find a yoga class to help incorporate a regular stretching plan into your routine.