Please Stretch!

It shouldn’t anymore, but I am always amazed at how few people stretch before and after they exercise. Please know, I am not judging, for it even happens to those of us who should know better! There are a lot of athletes in Bend, some of them are recreational athletes, some are training for bigger events; the ones in training are definitely more mindful about it, but even they, from time to time, can skip this most important part of the workout, and this is when problems arise most frequently.

The benefits of stretching far outweigh the time needed to do it. Yes, stretching helps improve your flexibility; this improves joint motion and lubrication which ultimately helps decrease the risk of injury. Along with the flexibility, stretching helps to increase blood flow, providing better nourishment to the muscles for repair after your workout.

If you think to yourself you don’t have time in your workout to stretch, then it’s time to make some changes to your workout. In fact, don’t think of the stretching as a separate routine, it needs to be considered part of the workout, plain and simple. Stretching should be done after a brief warm up; stretching cold can lead to injury. Make sure you focus on those muscle groups that you use in your activity or you use for work (remember, there are a lot of jobs that put stress on your body like a workout. Even sitting at a desk requires some stretches to work on those muscles, like the psoas, which tend to shorten with long periods of sitting). You want to hold your stretches for at least 30 seconds. You can use your breath for both a timer and as a cue to help your muscles relax; figure out how many breaths you take in 30 seconds, and use the exhale for the deeper parts of the stretch. And finally, stretching should not be painful. Yes, you may feel the tightness, but this is where the stretch should be. If you are pushing into pain with your stretch, back off because, like stretching cold, this may lead to injury.

We are here to keep you healthy and injury free so you can keep doing what you love. Stretching is the best thing you can do for yourself to keep your body happy and health, so please stretch!