It’s that time of year when we set new fitness and wellness goals for the new year. We put a lot of emotion and energy in setting these goals and picture ourselves succeeding. When you are confident in how your body moves and feels, you’ll have the best chance at not only meeting your goals, but exceeding them.
Starting or increasing a fitness routine with an ill-prepared body means a greater likelihood of injury and a greater likelihood that the injury will derail you. You deserve the best change to be successful.
Here are a few ways adding stretch protocols into your daily life will allow your body to feel restored and at its best to make sure your goals stick.
REDUCES LIKELIHOOD OF INJURY
Areas that often have more stress placed upon them when starting a new fitness routine include the low back, knees, and hips. If your starting point is a mostly sedentary lifestyle, sitting and lack of movement for an extended period of time stiffens and shortens the muscles. When a new fitness regimen is initiated, the involved areas will be going through greater ranges of motion they may not be used to, leaving them more prone to injury.
Our active method of stretching allows the muscles to be properly warmed up and lengthened before starting an activity. Blood flow and oxygen to the muscles is increased, providing protection to the joints. Muscle imbalances are lessened when stretching as well, allowing the body to have better mobility and alignment to properly grasp the technique of the activity. Active stretching combined with a light warm-up prior to exercise will minimize the risk of getting injured when starting a new routine.
IMPROVES POSTURE AND ALIGNMENT
Stretching helps to correct any muscle imbalances in your posture. Soon after starting a new fitness routine, you may notice a shift in your posture. You may find your posture improving, as you are strengthening muscle groups to help you stand taller and straighter. On the contrary, new fitness routines may also negatively impact posture. If you are beginning a new routine with less than ideal posture, chances are you will have improper form in your workouts and increase the likelihood of pain and soreness. For example, if you start with shoulders that are rounded and elevated, your range of motion and body positioning will be unnatural and compromised. Stretching the upper body will help lower the shoulders and lengthen the spine reducing compensations and allowing you to perform your activity properly. Stretching aims to restore the muscles to their optimal length and position.
Similar to posture, new fitness routines will affect the body’s alignment. A properly aligned body will have the head, shoulders, spine, hips, knees and ankles all in line. Keeping all of these joints linear will place less stress on the spine to help better your posture.
IMPROVES RANGE OF MOTION
If you are a regularly active person, you will find that incorporating stretching routines into your daily life will enhance your workouts. The increase in range of motion associated with stretching will allow you to perform your best. For example, stretching the hip flexors and quads will allow more range of motion to help squat deeper and put more power into spinning. Stretching the upper body, like the pecs and shoulders, will allow greater mobility to be put into those boxing workouts. The lengthening and lightness felt throughout the body from implementing these stretch routines will aim to increase performance.
REDUCES SORENESS AND PROMOTES RECOVERY
Any soreness post-workout is not problematic: it is your body letting you know it is adapting to the new stresses placed upon it. Excess soreness, however, can leave you feeling tight, fatigued, and unmotivated to keep up with your routine.
Stretching after a workout, whether it be directly after or the following day, will alleviate sore muscles. Even a few minutes of stretching will increase blood flow, oxygen, and nutrients to those tender areas. This will not only reduce soreness after a workout; it will properly prepare you for your next one.
Whether you are a fitness novice or looking for new ways to maximize those workout gains, prepare your body now. Get a head start now and make 2019 the year you crush your fitness goals. Incorporating stretching into your daily life before you begin your new fitness routine will leave your body feeling ready to take on any workout you set your mind to. Keeping stretching in your routine will keep you on track way past the time most people drop their new year routine. Here’s to a happy, healthy, and restored body in the new year.
Written by Ariel Scheintraub. Ariel is a Stretch Therapist in our Tribeca studio.