You push yourself to your limits when doing cardio, but do you stretch yourself to the limit afterward? Many trainers agree that people neglect regular stretching as part of their fitness plan and they're sorely (pun intended) missing its benefits.
I am here to tell you that a little stretching goes a long way. Stretching regularly helps prevent injury by increasing the range of motion of the joints and thereby improves performance. A muscle that can work through its full range of motion is a stronger muscle.
It also counteracts the tightness that happens just from your basic daily activities - like wearing high heels (these make your calves tight). Stretching keeps you limber, lithe and agile. Who wouldn't want that?
So now that you know more about the benefits of stretching, you're going to need to know how to do it. To learn a few tips on stretching,
- Stretching should never, ever cause pain.
- Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds, and it is great to repeat stretches if you have the time.
- Don't bounce - you could hurt yourself.
Stretching regularly after your work out, when your muscles are warm, is a great way to maintain and gain flexibility.
Fit's tip: If you love wearing high heels but hate the pain after walking a day in them, try the stretch pictured above to stretch out your calves.