How to make sure you get the stretching you need

YogaMYou can never stretch too much; and you (or your muscles) rarely get enough. So most of us lie somewhere in between. We stretch a little bit before or after we workout, or when we feel stiffness in a particular part of our bodies.

But it’s never enough.

We know stretching is good for us, as good as exercise, frankly. It not only improves flexibility, but it can decrease the chances of injury and boosts blood supply to the muscles, which diminishes soreness.

There are mental benefits, too. At a time when all of us are experiencing stress of some degree, stretching can be a great anecdote to the effects of stress. Those few minutes of stretching help clear your mind clear and allow it to recharge.

So how do you get more of those benefits?

Here are a couple of ideas:

  1. Focus on specific areas of need.  If you’re not sore anywhere, then, well, you’re very lucky. Almost everyone hurts somewhere, at least a little bit. Take 10 minutes in the morning or evening and stretch those areas. It may be your quads or hamstrings, your upper or lower back, or even joints. Taking the time to stretch those areas allows you to gain the physical and mental benefits and you’ll still get to work (or bed) on time.
  2. Take a yoga class. If you’ve tried it before, I don’t have to persuade you to try it again. You know how it feels after a few classes. You know the peacefulness, the peace you experience  when you take yoga regularly. If you’ve never taken a yoga class, try it once a week for a month. You may feel more sore after the first couple of weeks – you’re stretching your muscles beyond their comfort (or discomfort) zone. But once your body adapts and the benefits kick it, you’ll be as “addicted” to the experience of yoga as you may be to exercising regular.
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