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Aaaand Stretch

Oh how I’d love to be able to reach down and touch my hands flat to the ground. I’ve always envied those “gumbies” with endless amounts of flexibility. A couple years ago, I could not cross my legs without pain and thought I was having major hip issues. I tried several sessions with a chiropractor and was getting ready to make an appointment with an orthopedic doctor, when I discovered my simple solution. I found a good massage therapist that knew how to stretch my tight glutes and hip flexors…. And it worked! Now, two years later, those monthly and sometimes bi-monthly massages are a part of my lifestyle. Although I’m not as flexible as I’d like to be (and I have a lot of work to do), tending to my tight muscles is definitely something that I have moved to my priority list. It keeps me pain-free and lowers my stress immensely! Incorporating different types of stretching before and after your workout can be a major game changer. Not only does stretching your muscles help ease you in and out of your workout, it also does all of the following: - improves posture - increases flexibility - increases range of motion - prevents injuries - relieves stress So let's discuss the before and after of a workout... THE WARM UP Warming up helps prepare the body for exercising. It also increases your heart and respiratory rate and boosts nutrients and oxygen to the muscles. This may include a light aerobic activity or a dynamic stretching warm-up. Prior to a strength training session, I prefer dynamic stretching where I incorporate bodyweight exercises that take the major muscle groups and joints through their full range of motion. I tend to warm up to the length of a song or so and over time have created a warm up routine that I use each time to keep it simple. I include some marching, stepping squats in and out, punching high and low to incorporate shoulders and back, lunges, arm circles, leg swings and standing knee holds. Just think basic bodyweight movements that incorporate large muscle groups and keep moving for 3-5 minutes. POST WORKOUT Your cool-down routine allows the heart rate to slow down to a normal speed. It also aids in relaxing the muscles. With my clients, I like to include a walk after strength training and then follow it up with flexibility training. If there are time constraints and you are doing good just to squeeze in the actual workout, I recommend completing this phase later that night while watching TV or before going to bed. Missing the steps of flexibility training can consequently result in stiffness and soreness in the days ahead. Step 1: Self-Myofascial Release This is what I also just refer to as foam rolling. Self-myofascial release is a stretching technique that applies gentle pressure on knots in your muscle tissue. It is basically like a self-massage that helps break up those knots and release muscle tension. All you need is a basic foam roller. Fair warning: The fancy looking ones with lots of bumps, etc. hurt way worse! Consequently, I find that these end up being avoided and not used as much. I prefer a basic one like this one from Target. (I'm not an affiliate.) I recommend rolling each area below back and forth until you find a tender spot. At this sore spot, put pressure on the area by holding your weight through the roller for a minimum of 30 seconds or until the pain is reduced. Calves (Gastrocnemius/Soleus)




Outer Thighs (Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL)/Iliotibial (IT) Band




Glutes (Piriformis)


Step 2: Static Stretching Static stretching is what most of you think of when someone says, “let’s stretch”. This is when you are holding a stretch to the point of feeling tension. Holding the muscle in this stretched position allows it to lengthen and relax. I recommend you hold stretches for about 30 seconds and perform 1-3 sets of each stretch depending on how tight you are on both sides. Common stretches include your calves, front and back of your thighs, hip flexors, chest, glutes, neck, and lower back. If you have questions on how to stretch any of these areas, feel free to reach out to me for more details. STRETCHING TIPS Avoid Pain – if stretching hurts, stop. However, once you reach a point in the stretch where it hurts, relax to where it feels comfortable. At this point, hold the stretch. Hold the Stretch – If possible, maintain each stretch 30 seconds. Avoid Bobbing – This bouncing motion my actually cause more harm than good. Breathe – Remember to breathe in and out, even though you’re stretching. Breathing is beneficial to all parts of the workout Keep stretching your mind, your limits, your energy, and of course your muscles and you’ll reach your goals. Let’s get FIRED UPP, Nat

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