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The Importance of Stretching

by Hannah

Lately, my husband and I have been talking about the busyness of life and the need to slow down. We live in a high-pace culture without much wiggle room in the midst of work, children, adult and child activities, caregiving, errands, housework, birthdays, holidays, and the list goes on! Sometimes I find myself and others bringing their busyness into the fitness setting, running late, and jumping into a workout without warming up properly.

As a registered nurse who enjoys learning about the science, anatomy, and benefits of exercise and all that goes along with it, I want to share about the importance of stretching before exercise. Stretching can be performed in two forms: static and dynamic. While different sources will explain their preference of one over the other, Mike Boyle, Certified Functional Strength Coach, explains the benefit of incorporating a combination of both forms.

            At the start of your workout, begin with static stretching. This includes holding one position at a time for multiple, long, deep breaths. One should stretch all areas this way when the muscles are cold for increased flexibility and muscle length, because when the muscles are warm they return to their previous length. Remember not to stretch beyond what is comfortable, to be gentle, and to start slow. Some examples include stretching the shoulders and triceps as well as holding butterfly, cobra, and forward fold positions.

Dynamic stretching is active and helps prevent injury during high intensity workouts. These movements entail full range of motion. Some examples include arm circles, lunges with twists, and hip circles.

In the midst of new year goals and habits, try incorporating stretching into your workout routines! Your body will surely thank you. And as we take shallow breaths throughout the day, enjoy those few extra minutes to stop and take nice, deep breaths.

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