It may be one of the easiest parts of your workout routine to ignore but stretching is vital to all round physical well-being. The short-term and long-term benefits of stretching before and after you start your session will not only increase your flexibility but will improve your performance and reduce your risk of injury.

Other benefits associated with stretching include:

– Reduced lactic acid which leads to pain and stiffness.

– Improved muscular function and coordination.

– Improved blood circulation.

– Minimised wear and tear of joints.

– Decreased stress and improved mind body connection.

– Improved benefits of exercise post workout.

– Improved posture

Nobody expects you to look like a yogi each time you stretch, but there are several things you should consider when stretching. Stretches can be dynamic and static and each have their unique benefits.

Static stretching- These stretches often involve holding your body in a challenging yet comfortable position anywhere from 10-30 seconds. These are great for your post workout as your body slowly returns to its resting heart rate and they work to reduce lactic acid in the body.

For a simple static stretch stand up placing your feet hip width apart and keeping your back straight, slowly bend forward tracing your extended arms down your legs and as close to your toes as possible. Hold for 15 seconds when you have reached a challenging yet comfortable point of movement. Your hamstrings will jump for joy at this movement.

Dynamic Stretching- These stretches involve moving through a range of motion 10-12 times. These improve a functional range of motion and mobility throughout your workout. They are great to do pre-workout in preparation for the movement ahead.

For a simple dynamic stretch, hold on to a static object or friend. Standing straight on one leg, kick your other leg straight in front and straight behind 10-12 times as far as you can in a comfortable range of movement. This will help to increase hip movement and stretch your upper leg muscles. Always make sure you do both sides equally as is important with any stretch.

It is also beneficial to get external help when stretching. Equipment including exercise balls, massage balls, bands and mats make stretching more comfortable and can help you tend to areas more deeply. Alternatively, a trainer or friend may be able to gently push or pull you into a position that gives you a deep release.

To be the best you, you can be it is important to relieve the tension on your body. Your local gym trainers take great pride in knowing exactly what movements will help ease the stress on your body and can give expert advice that will help you achieve a fitter, stronger you.

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