As you formulate your fitness routine, stretching may be the last thing on your mind: After all, isn’t the whole point to lose weight and get healthy? But flexibility is actually a key component of proper training, because it can improve your performance and may decrease your risk of injury from working out or performing daily activities. If you’re lucky enough to belong to a gym that has a TRUE Stretch, you can use it to take a natural approach to flexibility training and make sure you are doing stretches that will truly improve your range of motion. You can also try these tactics at home:
Focus on muscle groups
According to the Mayo Clinic, the best way to improve your flexibility is to focus on major muscle groups, such as your calves, lower back, neck and shoulders. When you’re considering where to concentrate your stretching, think about which muscle groups are activated both when you exercise and when you perform daily activities, like picking up your child or washing dishes.
Don’t forget your joints
The idea behind flexibility training is to increase the range of motion of your joints. When you’re first starting out, static stretching may be a good option so you don’t overextend your joints and provoke injury. With static stretching, you can focus your flexibility on one specific area of your body, helping to lengthen the muscle. Move on to dynamic stretching gradually as your muscles become more accustomed to the motions.
Keep is as a part of your routine
The importance of stretching and flexibility is often overlooked, but it’s imperative that it’s done regularly. Even if you manage to improve your range of motion by stretching two or three times per week, if you fall out of your routine, you may lose any progress that has been made. Instead of only working on your flexibility after a workout, try stretching every day right when you get up in the morning or before you go to bed at night.