My biggest frustration…stretching. Please, please, please heed my advice on this one. Yeah that’s right…heed!
Make time for stretching!
No matter what type of exercise you are doing, try and make some time for stretching! Most exercise will use some muscles more than others, and those muscles will become tense, if you continually use those muscles in the same way without stretching them out you can become a victim of adaptive shortening. This is where one set of muscles is habitually held in a shortened position causing the muscle to adapt and shorten in length, this can be very uncomfortable and cause several issues with posture. Muscle tension anywhere in your body can be very painful, a lot of lower back pain comes from not enough stretching – especially your legs and your hip flexors! I will go more into back pain another time.
Stretching, obviously, improves your flexibility – not in one go, it will take time! Flexibility is great, yes I mean yes, it’s always fun to be able to do the splits to whack out at a party after having a couple of drinks (I don’t recommend doing that) and it’s always fun to actually win a game of limbo, but you would be surprised how much of a difference a little extra flexibility can make in your everyday life. It can be something as small as being able to pick something up off the floor without groaning or being able to bend down further than you used to – all good things!
As well as the improved flexibility, stretching will also reduce muscle tension and help with physical and mental relaxation (stretch positions should allow muscles to relax!) One key thing to think about when stretching is not to clench the muscle you are stretching, but to keep breathing and gently, and gradually, increase the stretch as far as you think you can go.
Please take it slowly and listen to your body – don’t get too excited, you don’t want to overdo it and possibly cause yourself an injury. It really well hurts! xx