A simple key to staying healthier, longer.
We get it, you’re a dude, you don’t like to stretch. It’s boring, it takes too long and it’s just not comfortable. Going to yoga is a hassle and an embarrassment, pilates is too humiliating and stretching at the gym gets boring after about 5 minutes.
As difficult as it may seem to reach (get it?) a flexibility goal, setting one and working little by little to hit it will create tons of extra benefits in your health and lifestyle.
- Range of motion: You’re going to get a fuller benefit from your lift when you can move the weight around in a wider, but still healthy range
- Injury Prevention: Flexible muscles are literally more loose, therefore allowing more movement and eliminating some of the possibility of injury during exercise
- Less Pain: If you suffer from back pain, neck pain, knee pain, shoulder pain or any other kind of bothersome pain, taking time to stretch these areas will stop the muscles and tendons from pulling so tightly and will lessen your pain
Where to Begin
- Warm Up: Stretching muscles that haven’t been warmed up actually increases the chances of injury, be sure to jog or perform specific moves to get your blood flowing before beginning to stretch
- Study Up: Oftentimes it’s easy to play around with stretches and feel like you’re working a targeted area, when in reality the move you’re performing is either unhealthy or targeting a different muscle group, do some research as to the best moves you can perform to specifically target the correct muscle groups (there’s a great wikihow article for beginners here)
- Don’t Overdo It: Holding each move for 8-10 seconds at a slightly uncomfortable point of the stretch is good. You’ll become more and more flexible over time, so don’t push yourself to the point of injury and try to go harder than your body will allow
- Don’t Copy: You’ll inevitably see another guy at the gym who can do a full split or twist his body into some crazy pretzel. Don’t allow yourself to get competitive and understand that some people are naturally more flexible than others. If you do your work and put in the time, you’ll get there.
If you want to join a class, it’s a great way to be sure you’re performing the stretches properly. It’s also nice to be surrounded by other people who are trying to get better as well. Get flexible, get healthy, be happy!
Here are some great starter tools to help aid in your flexibility too!