It's easy to forget about one of the most important things when it comes to a fit lifestyle. The stretches! We all have so much going on in a days time, it feels like a struggle sometimes to just get ourselves into the gym or to take a class... little loan have time to add on for stretching. Well, I wanted to go over why it truly is important and share a few tips that seems to help me keep my muscles happy.
Importance Pre & Post Workout
I'm going to go over all of these positions individually so it's a little less confusing. The stretches I'll be showing you today can be done even in the convince of your own home and I'll explain as we get into them all. Now, I mentioned it's just as important to stretch prior to working out as it is after. Now this is very true in order to help protect your muscles from injuries. The "Warm Up" prior to exercise is huge! It helps to get your heart rate up so your body stays warm to perform what your asking it to and it also helps you to burn more calories. So do a quick little 10 minute walk on an incline, or take a jog. Even jumping jacks work to help rev your body up. This is why during bar class we do our initial knee lifts.
Performing active stretches prior to your workout is really key to muscle health as well! Now what I mean by "active" is not just sitting in a position. Create movement in some way to continue to lengthen your muscles and remain active in the stretch! For instance in your hamstring stretch with your legs extended out in front of you, move between pointing and flexing your feet. This creates a different stretch sensation behind your legs and also keeps motion throughout your stretch to help deepen the feel. Allowing your breath to help you of course always feels nice too, and is super beneficial.
After the workout is probably the hardest to take time to do. I get it, I'm an offender of running straight out of class or the gym too. This is when it really counts to stretch to help increase your flexibility! You all know that when your muscles are warm it's feels better to stretch. Sometimes you may even feel like Gumby reaching limb to limb. After you work your muscles to grow strong, it is so important to stretch after to lean them out. This creates long lean muscles, and also moves that lactic acid around so your less sore in one particular spot the next day. Now lets get to some of the stretches we perform in Bar class. I'm going to share what these positions are stretching and also why they're so beneficial.
The Gluteus Medius... always a tough cookie! Working and stretching this area of your seat is so difficult. Sometimes it hurts so much you feel like you don't even want to try, but once you ease into it you feel so much better. This position particularly is so intense for your outer seat. No worries if you don't have a ballet barre at home, lol I sure don't. You can still do this stretch though simply use your kitchen counter top or the back a a sturdy chair. You can also do a similar stretch sitting on the floor. Simply have a seat and stack your shins on top of one another. You can make it more intense by hinging forward from your hips, but this is a super intense in general. So have fun playing in your movement.
Hamstrings! One of the easiest muscle groups to feel tight all the time. Seriously the back of your legs are no joke when it comes to needing to stretch them. It can even hurt to walk if they're super tight. Showing you two options on how to stretch this area of your leg. Again at the bar, or can be done placing your heel on a sturdy surface at home, or done on your knee as shown above. Think about your posture in this postion. If you keep your spine long rather then rounding over you will be able to create a deeper stretch for yourself.
More hamstring, but also including your inner things. By turning your leg out and rotating your body you able to get a nice stretch through your inner thigh. Not only are you leaning out your leg muscle but at the same time your slimming through your waistline by reaching through your extended arm! One of the most forgot areas to stretch is your waist I feel. Really concentrate to keep your top arm straight and reach long through your fingers to lengthen to your max.
And below is a great achievement to be super proud of yourself after working towards your split goals! It lengths your hamstrings as well as stretches your hip flexors at the same time. You can work towards this position a little at a time, you don't need to be flat on the floor right away in order to say you can do a split. Try a little each day and it'll improve I promise.
So I hope this was beneficial for you all and helped you realize just how important stretching really is. It's so easy to not allow the time for it, so I want you to really try to leave the extra 5 before class or the gym and at least 10 after to work on your stretches. I promise you'll thank me later. As long as you're consistent you'll see and feel the difference.