What Really Happens When You Skip Out On Stretching

We know we know, you’ve got lots of places to go, and lots and lots of things to do. But is skipping out on that final five minutes of stretching after class costing you precious workout results, and potential pain later?

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This may seem like a no-brainer, but without stretching, your muscles begin to contract and tighten after a long workout. Sometimes, achy knees or painful hips are caused by muscular contractions surrounding the joint. Stretching loosens the muscle, which aids in a quick recovery and the prevention of pain.

Similar to the initial effect, the contracted muscles will remain in their shortened state if not sufficiently stretched. Certain movements within workouts keep specific muscles in a contracted state while others are kept in a lengthened position which, over time, can result in muscle imbalances. This tightness increases the wear and tear on your joints and decreases your range of motion due to the reduced extensibility, making future injuries more likely.

When you skip a stretch after your workout the tissue remains in the position in which you left it, which can also add density, or bulk, which is why we always find time for a quick stretch in-between exercises during class to lengthen your muscle back out.

Taking time for your cool down can also increase your flexibility and mobility over time, which is thought to help avoid muscle tears, back pain, and joint issues. The 30 minutes directly after your workout are prime time to get the most out of your stretch, and ultimately see the most progress. So although skipping a stretch here and there won’t offset your entire workout, investing a little more time to loosen hard-working muscles, will set you up to be a better, pain-free barre babe over time.

If you absolutely must duck out of class early (hey at least you came right!!), here’s our top five, dynamic stretches you should perform at home. Think about holding each stretch for 30 seconds, or perform the reps listed, then repeat the entire sequence on the other side.

Low Lunge:

  1. Lunge forward with left leg until thigh is parallel to floor, and place hands on floor on either side of left foot, or on the left knee.
  2. Raise right arm straight up toward ceiling as you rotate left shoulder back. Lower hand to starting position.

Down-Dog Extension:

  1. Start in a tabletop position with shoulders under wrists and knees under hips. Press into both hands and lift your knees off the floor.
  2. Push hips up as you extend left leg behind you and press right heel down.
  3. Pull left knee in toward chest and lower into a lunge again to complete 1 rep. Do 8 reps of the entire sequence.

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Active Pigeon:

  1. Start in a straight arm plank. Pull left knee in toward outside of your left wrist, then lower left leg to floor so foot is near your right hip.
  2. Lower hips as you push through hands, lifting head and chest.
  3. Option to lower chest and forward fold for a deeper stretch. Alternately you may use a prop such as an exercise ball or pillow under your left glue for more support.

Butterfly Pose:

  1. Sit up tall with the soles of your feet pressed together and your knees dropped to the sides as far as they will comfortably go.

  2. Pull your abdominals gently inward and lean forward from your hips, being careful  not to round down from your shoulders.

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Seated Head Roll:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position and clasp your hands behind your back. Lower your chin toward your chest slowly.
  2. Rotate your head to the right so that your ear is directly over your right shoulder. Hold the position for five seconds.
  3. Roll your head back down toward your chest and then to the left. Bend your neck so your head is over your left shoulder. Hold the position for five seconds. Repeat for up to 8 reps.
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