It always amazes me how often I hear people talking about consistent workouts with very little to no stretching. While those who practice Pilates are well aware of the benefits of a good stretch, the truth is that many do not find it necessary. Worse, they walk through life with tight hips, hamstrings, neck and back muscles often unaware that even a few moments of attention to their flexibility will help them feel better and reach their full potential in and out of the gym.
Here are a few tips:
Stretch bedside. Take 3-5 minutes in the morning and before bedtime to wake up and relax your muscles. Focus on each area of the body, from the balls of the feet and calves to the hamstrings, back, arms and neck. Don’t forget to squeeze your face muscles which can release pressure on the eyes.
Hydrate. I say it a lot, but your body is like a sponge. Tearing a dehydrated muscle is much easier than you think!
Don’t complicate things. You don’t need to do the most extreme pose you tried once in a class. Instead, focus on stretches you are comfortable with and ask an instructor or trainer for guidance on new ones.
Take your time. You may not be as flexible as you’d like to be right now, but daily practice will help to get you there.
Breathe. Deep breaths while holding each stretch will allow you to go deeper, loosen muscles and ease tension. You may find that you feel that you’re able to breathe better afterwards too.
Do you stretch outside of class? For those of you who do not do Pilates, do you stretch at all?