Have you been skimping on your stretching? When pressed for time, most people skip the stretching portion of their cool down, but that really is a fitness no-no. Keeping flexible is important for staying injury free. You work your muscles and they tighten up. Then you stretch them so your joints stay mobile decreasing the chance of hurting yourself.
After every workout, be it strength or cardio, you should take five minutes to stretch out. Here are the muscle groups you should stretch and why:
- Calves: Tight calves can lead to Achilles tendinitis and plantar fasciitis, since the calf muscles connect to the fascia that lines the bottom of your foot.
- Quads: Tight quads can lead to knee pain and often mean that you've underworked your hamstrings, which are important to knee stabilization.
- Hamstrings: When the back of the legs are tight, the pelvis tucks under, leaving the low back vulnerable to injury and weakening the spinal muscles.
There are a couple other areas that most often require stretching after a workout, so
- Hip flexors: Tight muscles at the front of the hop joint can can pull the pelvis out of alignment, making it more difficult to engage your abs and tightening the low back as well.
- Chest: When the chest is tight, the upper back excessively rounds and the neck compensates by jutting forward — both unattractive and painful.
Hopefully, you are now inspired to stretch. If you need help figuring out how to stretch the body parts I have listed, click on the links above to learn appropriate moves to loosen your tight muscles.