A well-rounded exercise program isn’t complete without daily stretching and breathing techniques. While easily overlooked or skipped entirely, stretching daily is important as it allows for muscle stress and tension built up from exercise to be released. This will drastically reduce the risk of pulling a muscle or cramping up during exercise and after you’ve pressed “stop” on the treadmill and head to the showers. Thus, lowering the overall risk of injury when working out. It will also allow for less muscle soreness and faster recovery between workouts. When your body is feeling perpetually refreshed and recovered, you may find yourself achieving goals faster! Stretching daily also has cognitive benefits that include better concentration and help with reducing overall stress. The nervous system can also operate more efficiently due to fewer resources going towards healing a sore muscle or muscle group.
So, when is the best time to stretch? We’re glad you asked. The best times to stretch are in the morning upon waking up as well as right before bed. You’ve likely noticed that stiffness you feel when you wake up. After all, your body has been relatively immobile for 7 plus hours while sleeping. This is a great time to get loosened up in order for your body to operate more efficiently. Additionally, stretching when you first wake up will heat you up from the inside out, allowing for your body and brain to wake up faster. This, in turn, will promote more mental clarity throughout the day. Equally important is a good stretch session before hitting the hay. All day long gravity is pushing down your body, which can lead to compression of the spinal column. You can achieve a more restful nights sleep due to less tension built up in the muscles by performing a few good stretches before catching those Z’s.
Now, take a deep breath in… Already feeling a little bit better? Proper breathing helps reduce stress levels while improving mental clarity. Usual breathing technique consists of inhaling through the nose and exhaling out through the mouth. Breathing through the mouth could mean the lungs don’t fully expand and it constricts oxygen to the lower extremity muscles and organs. This lack of oxygen can increase one’s chance of injury and lower one’s aerobic capacity, which dominos to lower levels of workout performance. The most important reason to breathe properly through the nose? When you inhale through your nose you send oxygen directly to your brain! When you breathe strictly through the mouth the air you breathe in goes directly to the lungs, this is actually not good for the rest of the body. It needs to go to the brain first and then down to the lungs.
You can drastically enhance the results you’re looking for and improve all other aspects of your life by including stretching and breathing techniques in your exercise regimen and daily life. Looking for even more personalized motivation? Speak with any member of your club’s friendly team staff about one-on-one personal training with a certified YouCoach today!