In my Pilates classes we always end with a nice 10-15 minute stretch. It’s a great way to end the session, helping you to relax and unwind and bring the worked muscles fibers back to their normal length. But just waiting for our weekly Pilates session is often not enough, and we should all aim to add stretching into our daily routine.
But why is it so important?
We never know how we need our bodies to react, for example playing with our children / grandchildren, running for the bus, heavy lifting when moving house, bending and twisting whilst cleaning the house. We need to supply our body with the right tools so that when we need to move differently our bodies are ready and able.
Well stretching will keep us mobile and independent for longer, keep our muscles flexible, strong and most important healthy. We ultimately need flexibility so we can move to the greatest range of motion, so that when we call those muscles to move in certain ways, we are able. When we don’t stretch, the muscles shorten and become tight, and when we ask them to move in certain ways they are too weak and won’t be able to extend the whole way. This can then cause damage from sudden overstretching, and they will not be able to support the joints leading to injury.
Tips for stretching:
Always do a small warm up to get the blood flowing before stretching. The fibers need to wake up to prevent causing injury.
Don’t bounce into the stretch. It’s best to hold a stretch where you feel tension and when it eases off (after about 10 seconds) gently go further into the stretch.
You can hold stretches for at least 30 seconds. This will turn them into ‘developmental’ stretches, meaning you can increase your flexibility over time.
There are so many to choose from and everyone may need something different depending on their lifestyle.
I think glute stretches are a must, and thigh stretches to release your hips. Also child's pose will release your hips and lower back. Try a few standing roll-downs which mobilises your spine and comes into a nice hamstring stretch.
Happy Stretching Everyone :)
Let me know your favourite stretches