by Kelsey Davidson
Now, I know, that you’ve been told to stretch just like you’ve been told to eat your vegetables but have you ever wondered why?
The best way to think about your muscles is like Play-Doh. We’ve all played with it and know how it transforms from a ball to a worm in no time, just like your muscles!
To start, let’s think about when Play-Doh is cold. You cannot manipulate it, it’s hard and just a ball. Then as your hands start to work with the Play-Doh, it starts to become warmer and stretchier just like your muscles. When you warm up, this is what you are doing. You can warm up numerous ways: dynamic stretching, a slow jog, little movements and more. As you are now warming up your muscles, the blood is flowing faster and allowing movements to happen more easily and this leads to injury prevention.
Hooray, now that the workout is done, you are done playing with your Play-Doh.
Now what happens… it starts to get cold and get hard.
It goes back to that un-manipulative ball. Just like your muscles, unless, you stretch.
When you stretch you are lengthening your muscles, creating that worm-like figure like in Play-Doh. Now when your muscles get cold, they will resemble the ball, not the worm.
This worm figure will allow you to move more and will slowly increase your flexibility. And more wonderful advances in your health, such as:
- Increasing blood flow to and from muscles and heart as well as overall circulation
- Preventing injuries
- Increasing nutrient delivery
- Preventing DOMS – delayed onset muscle soreness
- Increasing sport or activity ability
- Helping mentally and spiritually connect to your physical body
I know stretching can be looked at like a chore from time to time but if you can commit to daily stretching practices (during a commercial break or while water is boiling for dinner or while your kids are brushing their teeth)-this will all help.
Always remember that warming up and stretching post workout is an integral part of your workout.
Kelsey Davidson is a certified life coach, experienced fitness professional and founder of her own consulting practice called Alive Fitness and Wellness. (Bio photo: Jenifer Sander Photography).