You came, you stuck with it, you lifted those weights and sweated until there was a pool at your feet and at the end of your workout, you’re spent. You’re done. You’re out the door and you could quite possible be patting yourself on the back for a job well done at the gym. Good for you!
But I have one question.Did you stretch?
No? I didn’t think so. Oh what was that? The fitness instructor took you through a few quick tricep and quad stretches you say? I’m sure those were super effective. Can you bend down and tie your shoes? (Picture a crumbled individual hunched over feet fiddling with frazzled laces, only to then place hand on thigh and try ever so ungracefully to regain their stance as they uuuuggggghh and ouch their way back to standing, in a not-so-upright stance.) Pretty picture.
Listen, we don’t’ have to be all Circ de Soleil here when I mention stretching but we certainly don’t have to be all hunchback of Notre Dame in our old days either, which is where tons, tons, of people are headed.
Take 10 minutes after a workout and sit down, stretch it out and release all those icky toxins in your body and mind, it will do you a world of good.
Don’t believe me? (Or maybe you do and just don’t want to hear it? I can handle that… I’m still going to tell you why you should in hopes that you start to feel really guilty for not doing it. Ha.)
Ok, so the benefits: Increased flexibility (that’s a no brainer but I wanted to mention it anyway). You know those hamstrings that won’t let you bend over without causing your knees to bang you smack in the face? Yea, they’re tight to say the least and why? We’re a sedentary, computer obsessed society – need I say more? Stretching those hammy’s will go a long way in helping you feel more lucid and agile… and dare I say young?
Stretching can help in improving your posture too. How good does it feel after a long day to clasp your hands behind your back and pull and stretch through your chest? Can’t get your hands around to your back? Houston: We have a bigger problem. Your pectoral muscles are in worse shape than I thought and if you’re sitting at a desk for hours at a time and then driving home for hours at a time, no wonder you’re on your way to hunchback land, there’s no relief.
Stretch for love of all that’s holy!
Stretch so you can improve your balance, your circulation and your heart. It’s all connected. Your body is one big cohesive piece of machinery and if one part breaks down, it will all eventually break down. Doing the same repetitive motions day in and day out without any counter-motions and you’re slowly morphing into a creaky, rigid, and slightly deformed hybrid. We don’t want that.
Have I made my point? Is 10 minutes of stretching after a workout seem possible and not such a time-waster for you now? I certainly hope so, otherwise I hope you like your feet. (Because when you’re older, they’re all you’re going to be looking at day in and day out!)
Here are 10 basic stretches you could easily perform after your workout from the Mayo Clinic, www.MayoClinic.com (And I say after a workout because then your muscles are already warm and ready to stretch, lessening the chances of injuring yourself.)