If long-term fitness is your goal, you need to stretch. If you don’t want to just look good, but feel good, you need to stretch. Women, if you want to maintain or obtain smooth skin, particularly on your thighs, you need to stretch.
Stretching is often overlooked or minimized. And quick stretches during and after a workout are not enough. When weighed against how much time we have available to dedicate to exercise in our often busy lives, spending an extra 20 minutes or even 10 minutes doing a slow, mostly static activity can feel like an easily dismissable task. Instead, overall goals are emphasized, like gaining muscle or losing fat. Both of which don’t require stretching to be reached — although, you’ll likely develop stiffness over time. As a general rule, you should have at least one 20 – 30-minute stretching session per week. Two to three sessions per week is best. You don’t have to do yoga. There are plenty of stretching routines you can do, without having to perform an excessive amount of downward dogs. If you weight train regularly and perform heavy squatting movements, then the typical yoga routine might not stretch your quads and hams enough. Furthermore, if you have any knee issues, the warrior one and two positions can feel uncomfortable. I prefer programs that focus on basic stretching movements, that can be modified for people who are in the intermediate or advanced flexibility range.
Primary benefits of stretching:
- Improving athletic performance
- Reduces the chances of injury
- Maintains range of motion (important as you age)
- Reduces the appearance of cellulite
- Creates longer, leaner muscles which can look more pleasing than bulky, tight muscles.
- Increased circulation
The following programs are excellent and available online, and can also be ordered as DVD.
Cathe Friedrich: Stretch Max
Available via cathe.com, stream or order DVD
Body Holiday: Stretch programs
Available on Hulu or order DVDs. You can also travel to St. Lucia and experience it hands on:
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As an athlete for over 21 years and a broke single mom for most of that time, I created brokesinglemomfitness.com, now LLAFIT.com, to aid anyone who believes the road to fitness requires a lot of cash or time. In reality, the way to fitness is paved with knowledge and firm principles; teaching readers how to master both is the goal of this site. LLAFIT – Lifelong Applied Fitness