Stretching and why you need to do it!

So you think that stretching is only for yoga girls, and that it is not something that you need to be bothering with. It is not going to help you make any improvements and it is not going to make you run faster. But you would be wrong. Stretching should not be overlooked. It should be part of every bodies training plan, even if you are a recreational runner or gym goer.

gym

If, when you start training you don’t stretch then nothing will happen to you for a while. You will see improvements, you will get stronger with training, and leaner with a change of diet. But after a while, you will start to feel niggles and small pains. For example at when you sit all day at work your back aches, when you get up you feel a twinge in your quad. These small annoying things will only get worse, unless you start to stretch- and take it seriously.

niggle

Many people think that “injury is a part of sport” but in many cases the injuries can be avoided. For example, a gym goer who suffers from lower back pain may have this injury because: as his hamstrings gradually got stronger and tighter with training, they started to pull his pelvis down with them (posterior pelvic tilt).

pelvic tilt

This tilt gradually changed the curvature of his spine. This change was continuously reinforced by sitting all day at his computer at work, which lead to retraction of his hamstring muscles. After a few weeks of aches and niggles, the lumbar curve got lost, the mans posture started to alter and then under heavy load, for example at the gym, this lead to a vertebral herniation.

hernia

The above example of how a lack of mobility leads to injury. This story is unfolding all too often among runners, and in the gym because people refuse to work on their mobility. I can understand why people are reluctant to work on this area of training because it is so boring, but if you want to stay pain, and injury-free, then stretching and having a mobile body is essential.

So, if you are convinced by this, and you are keen to add mobility work into your routine, then I have two ways that you can go about it. First, why not try and take a yoga class once a week. Even an hour per week of mobility work will make a difference and you will notice that you get fewer niggles and ultimately fewer injuries.

yoga

However, yoga classes may not fit with your schedule, and so instead you could integrate mobility intervals to your training schedule. For example, why not use your recovery time to stretch? This will break up your mobility work into manageable pieces and will let you utilize what would otherwise be a simple active recovery. For me, like most other active people, my glutes, hamstrings, and hip flexors are particularly tight- so if you are not sure where to start, then I would suggest starting to focus your mobility exercises on these three main muscle groups.

tightness

Take a look at the link, there are some great stretches and mobility exercises to start with: http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/finder/lookup/filter/exercisetype/id/3/exercisetype/stretching