God continually calls us to stretch and increase our faith. Among other things, this makes us bolder, stronger, more flexible (forgiving), more capable to help ourselves and others. Strong faith brings joy and peace. Increased faith makes us more aware of our Earthly limits, and allows us to see how God meets us where we are. This stretching amplifies our spiritual health.
Stretching our bodies is equally important to our physical health. According to the Harvard Health Letter on ‘The Importance of Stretching,’ “Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage.”
The Mayo Clinic states that stretching increases blood flow to the muscle [which can assist with recovery/soreness], can improve athletic performance in some activities, and decrease the risk of activity-based injuries.
So now that you know why stretching is so important, how do you implement this into your fitness routine?
-Do a 10 minute warm-up before working out that includes dynamic stretching. These are more “active” movements like trunk rotations, shoulder circles, jumping jacks, etc. Get the blood flowing to the area you are going to work out. You do not want to lengthen the muscle prior to lifting weights. This can lead to injury, since exercise is typically the action of decreasing, flexing, or contracting the muscle.
-Post-workout, spend 10-20 minutes stretching your entire body, focusing on the areas which were emphasized in your workout.
-Stretch each side of your body equally. Hold each stretch for 30-60 seconds. No bouncing!
-Try assisted/partner stretching to really push your limits, but if you feel pain, STOP immediately.
-Try foam rolling on your legs after a run or heavy lift day. Foam rolling is essentially self sports massage. Some people have experienced a decrease in DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) from stretching and foam rolling. 8 Foam Rolling Techniques
-Talk to a physical therapist if you have specific injuries or problem areas. Know your body- it will guide you.
Hopefully this helps alleviate some discomfort you may have experienced, and increases your fitness capabilities!
Here’s to your health!
Check out more at: RISENfitness.org