The Importance of Stretching

It’s easy to overlook the importance of stretching but try to make an effort to stretch after your workouts in the coming weeks. You should notice a difference in the level of soreness you experience in the days following a tough workout. In addition, stretching increases flexibility when performed on a consistent basis.

A common misconception that many people have is that intense stretching should take place before a workout. This is absolutely false! Stretching before any type of warmup or workout can be dangerous and ultimately cause injury. Try a light cardio warmup before your strength training program or vigorous cardio workout. This type of light warmup will help get the blood flowing and loosen your muscles up. After your entire workout is complete finish up with a light cardio cooldown and significant stretching.  If you insist on stretching before a workout make sure you warm up first.

When stretching a muscle group hold each static stretch for 30-90 seconds. The longer the better. There is little point in holding static stretches for less than 30 seconds. Just like the rest of your workout, if you’re going to execute it, you may as well do it right and receive the best possible benefit.  Incorporate some stretches into your workout routine and see if it doesn’t help with your soreness.  Good luck!

Get Fit Physically AND Mentally: The Advantages of Yoga

Many times, when we think about physical fitness we think of strength, cardiovascular endurance, and body mass index as the defining factors.  While these things do play a part in being physically fit, we cannot overlook the importance of flexibility.
Proper stretching should be done after every strength and/or cardiovascular workout we complete.  Stretching after a workout will help prevent injury and decrease muscle soreness in the days that follow.  However, a few minutes of stretching after every workout, alone, may not be enough to create noticeable gains in our flexibility.
Consider adding a yoga class to your weekly workout routine.  The benefits you receive will make it well worth your time.  Increasing your flexibility can help you achieve your strength and cardio goals more easily.  Yoga will also help you achieve better core strength and balance.  You will be surprised at the strides you can make in just a few short weeks.  
In addition to physical rewards, yoga offers us the opportunity to enhance our mental health.  It is a form of meditation that allows us to focus on improving our bodies and minds.  Like other forms of meditation, yoga takes some getting used to.  It is far from easy at the start, but like anything, gets easier with practice so don’t give up!
The idea that yoga is just a routine of simple stretches strung together is a massive misconception.  I can tell you in all honesty that the first time I took a yoga class I glanced around the room to find that I was the only one sweating bullets with a look on my face that implied I had suffered an unexpected hernia.  It was not what I expected at all.  Previously considering myself “fit”, I realized then and there that I still had a lot of work to do if I wanted to possess the total package.
Check with your gym to find out whether or not they offer yoga classes.  If you are in the Columbus area and looking for classes consider checking out The Yoga Factory in Westerville or The Tracey Gardner Method in New Albany, which emphasizes hot yoga.  Whether you try it at a fitness center or in your living room, I suggest adding at least one day of yoga per week to your workout routine.  Improving your flexibility and expanding your balance of mind can truly get you one step closer to achieving your goals both inside and outside of the gym.