One of the most important aspects of health and fitness that is routinely overlooked is flexibility training. Recreational trainees (outside of yoga) will spend untold hours running, biking, and lifting, with an occasional stretch tacked on as an afterthought. This is a huge mistake! Training to improve your flexibility will not only make you more limber in day to day life, it will also improve your performance, exercise technique, and recovery, all while reducing your risk of injury. These are huge benefits for the minor time commitment of incorporating it into your routine!
By adding short stretching sequences to your regular workouts, you will better prepare your body for the task at hand. Your muscles and ligaments will have increased temperature, circulation, and mobility allowing you to train harder and safer through a longer range of motion. The increased mobility will translate to longer strides, a faster pedal cadence, or greater range of motion on your lifts — all of which will lead to better results, faster.
Regular stretching will also improve your posture, which is important for everything from exercise technique to healthy aging to non verbal communication! Standing tall and broad-shouldered makes anyone look confident and healthy, whereas standing with a slouch can make anyone look shy and uncertain. Posture has even been linked to chronic disease risk later in life! Through regular stretching, I've had numerous middle-aged clients gain inches of height they thought they'd lost forever! And they only realized it after people in their personal lives kept telling them how much younger/fitter/healthier they were looking!
If you're not already including stretching into your daily fitness regimen, I strongly suggest it's something you add in 2014, and to help I'll be sharing a video series on different stretch sequences to get you started! For this month, I'm sharing my favorite pre-workout stretch program: a total body dynamic stretch sequence that takes only a few minutes! Take a look at the video below, and try these stretches before your next workout - I bet you'll feel a difference!
Flexibility Training by Derek Tresize