Shantel, Licensed LMT Aug 28, 2017
OK, so I'm a healthcare person and my profession is all about muscles... Of course I want you to stretch... Big surprise huh?
Studies and practical experience have shown that better flexibility can improve your performance in physical activities while decreasing your risk of injuries. Helping your joints move through their full range of motion and giving your muscles the chance to work more effectively. Stretching also increases blood flow to our muscles. Which of you were wondering is a very good thing.
When do you think I've got time for this?
Ideally you should stretch several times a day... But here on Earth life gets in the way. So how does stretching fit into a busy life? There are a couple tricks to this.
Next best thing to several times a day is before and after you workout. Really take advantage of after, your muscles are all warmed up and you'd be amazed how much further your muscles can stretch.
My teacher in massage school, my very own Mr Miyagi, always recommended stretching in the shower. Unless you're a fan of the cold shower it can be another great place to work on your movements while your muscles are warmed up. Ummm... Word from the wise... Be sure you have solid footing in there OK? If you're going to get too involved after your shower is good too.
Working on a specific muscle group that's troubling you?
Pick a trigger that assists you in stretching several times a day. I often recommend doing it whenever you use the bathroom. It takes at least 30 seconds to effectively stretch a muscle. Whatever you're stretching I'll assume you have two of them. So add 1 minute to your bathroom break time. No one will miss you, deadlines won't be missed and your body will thank you for it.
There are a few schools of thought on how long you should hold a stretch. Not being a yogi myself I won't argue with any of them short of you forcing your body into a position that hurts you and tears muscles.
However a good rule of thumb is to hold a stretch for 20 seconds and then deepen the stretch and hold it for 10 seconds longer. This takes advantage of a phenomenon involving your muscle spindles that your muscles automatically do. Namely when they are called on for more length they give it to you. If you don't take advantage of readjusting your stretch you are losing out on some great potential that's right within reach.