Did you know that there are countless health benefits associated with stretching forms of exercise such as yoga and pilates? Despite the common idea that stretching post-exercise is a method used to facilitate recovery, alternatively research has actually identified no significant relationship between recovery and stretching. HOWEVER, stretching has numerous alternative benefits. First and foremost the most important element of stretching is the benefit of injury prevention by improving the flexibility of the muscles. Each time you undergo exercise, your muscles contract and therefore become tighter. The tighter your muscles are, the more likely they are going to sustain an injury. As a result, by stretching within the first 24 hours post-training is the critical window to ensure the muscles relax in preparation for your next session!
In addition to a reduction in injury risk there are also many, many more benefits of yoga and pilates! Here are just a few of the many:
Increased sleep quality
Decreased depressive symptoms
Decreased blood pressure
The most common barrier to these activities is the lack of time. However, even 5-10 minutes of stretching can have powerful benefits to numerous aspects of not just your physical health but your mental health too! I know what you’re thinking, should you prioritise yoga over a fitness focused class? Well, there is no right or wrong answer. The most important thing within your exercise routine is that you do what’s best for your enjoyment and to fit around your weekly routine. Yoga and pilates is by no means a must have, but stretching certainly needs a place within your routine. Try to spare at least 5-10 minutes after each workout to promote flexibility to ensure your muscles can perform optimally in your next session!
Top tip: For those of you that have a 9-5 desk job, completing stretches during your lunch break or even to just take a break from sitting down could have tremendous benefits for your muscles and most importantly, your health.