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Do I actually need to Stretch?

Short answer - yes, it is advised.

Better answer - the long version. Stretching is one of the most overlooked and undervalued elements of a good fitness routine. We’re all guilty of this. Stretching is important for keep our muscles strong, flexible and healthy and something we should all make part of our day. But it can be boring, monotonous and there difficult to get the habit started.

The benefits of stretching are

· Decreased stress levels

· Decreased pain and stiffness

· Decreased risk of injury

· Improvement in blood flow and circulation

· Increased flexibility and range of motion

· Helps to minimise wear and tear on the joints

Three Types of Stretching

Dynamic Stretching

Typically done in our warm up this kind of stretching involves movement and prepares your muscles for performance so you can complete your exercises in a safe manner. Dynamic stretching does this by increase synovial fluid in the joint which lubricates the joint so they move more easily. We recommend dynamically stretching the whole body and not just the area to be trained. We do this with all our clients in Fit Lane after a quick 3-5 minutes on the X-Trainer before we start our sessions.

Static Stretching

Static Stretching should only be preformed post workout or after you have warmed up the muscles by increasing blood flow to the muscles you are stretching. These stretches will help your body begin the recovery process. We begin by setting ourselves into the stretch and then holding it in palace for up to 45seconds. You should feel pull or tension in the muscle but no pain, there are no prizes for being able to touch your nose of the floor. After each fitness class we spend approximately 3 minutes doing a quick stretch which will aid in recovery. We always encourage our clients and class members to find sometime during the week for a long more relaxing stretch.

Myofascial Release.

The fascia of the muscles are densely woven connective tissue that covers and joins together groups of muscles (myo). It supports and stabilises these muscle groups and surrounding bones. Rolling this tissue with a foam roller or release ball helps in relaxing contracted muscles by stretching and lengthening the fascia through sustained pressure. When achieved this release allows the muscle groups to pull in the right direction. If you haven’t foam rolled before it can be a painful first experience but leaves you with a feeling of release and allows for better recovery.

To begin with don’t set up and elaborate hour long stretching routine that you know you don’t have the time for. Instead set aside a few minutes some days to stretch out and feel the difference in how you feel and how you recover from training sessions. If this is all new to you don’t be overwhelmed, know that even one stretch, more than you do currently, can make a difference. Making a start is the best motivation going forward as action breeds motivation.

Click on the video thumbnail for a full body stretching program. Often having a stretching program or video workout to follow can be a great way to get kick started. This 5 Minute stretch is ideal for post workout or after having completed a gentle warm up to ensure muscles are not ‘cold’. In this stretching program each stretch position flows seamlessly from one to the next which is the ultimate relaxation. Do whatever stretches feel good for you and ease back on any that may feel uncomfortable for now. As you can see, I recorded this in Fit Lane Galway but all I need was a mat or something else comfortable for you knees. Let us know how you get on.

- Enjoy.

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