I personally believe one of the most underrated aspects of health and fitness, that we all overlook is stretching. Stretching regularly is equally as important to long term health as physical activity and nutrition. Ensuring that our bodies are able to move freely and without restriction, not only allows us to live day to day unimpeded, but also allows us to get the most out of our exercise.
Stretching allows us to improve our joint range of motion (ROM) otherwise referred to as ‘mobility.’ A lack of mobility can lead to overuse injuries, impingement and overall postural imbalances. These postural imbalances often manifest in conditions like joint inflammation, joint impingement and overall muscular tightness. The solution – Stretch! And not just pre and post exercise. I’m talking multiple times every day! Just like with exercise, in order to see long term results in mobility and ROM, you need to be stretching constantly, targeting the most common problem areas that I call the ‘Big 5.’
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1) Latissimus Dorsi
3) Hip Flexors
These 5 muscles groups are the most commonly ‘tight’ areas I come across daily. No matter your age, occupation or fitness level, these 5 muscles are always in need of mobilizing. The following is a list of stretches you can do in the comfort of your own home, to target each of these problem areas.
Note: Simply hold each of these stretches for a minimum of 30 seconds and repeat them 2-3 times daily.
1) Latissimus Dorsi Stretch
2) Pectorals Stretch
3) Hip Flexor Stretch
4) Hamstring Stretch
5) Calf Stretch
The key to improving your mobility comes with consistency. Making it a part of your everyday routine is vital to seeing improvements. It takes longer to see results from stretching than it does from resistance training. So don’t be discouraged if there are no immediate improvements.
Increasing your mobility through stretching can improve your posture, reducing the stress on your joints. It can also help your workouts as you will be able to perform exercises through a greater range of motion, and at a higher intensity with a lower risk of injury. Rectifying a postural imbalance doesn’t just involve strengthening the weak muscles. Address the tight muscles with equal value and you will see great results. At Optimum we start planning your stretching routine from the very first session, both inside and outside the gym, so contact your nearest studio and talk to one of our specialists to-day.