Can you touch your toes?
Most American’s have limited flexibility. In fact, according to a study published in Daily Mail, 53% of the population can’t touch their toes.
So why does this matter?
Stretching not only unlocks a myriad of health benefits, but loosens up your body and can keep you feeling fresh. There are different ways of stretching however!
Koko recognizes the benefits of warming up with dynamic stretching over static stretching (pushing your muscle to it’s limit in a stable position). Dynamic means you’re moving as you stretch. The benefits of this style over static stretching include warming up the actual muscles you’ll be using in your workout, better body awareness, and increased muscle performance. Here are 3 reasons you should stretch dynamically.
FLEXIBILITY AND MUSCLE CONTROL
Flexibility keeps you loose and gives you a wider range of motion. There are too many times when a client will attempt a new workout and cannot complete the motion due to their limited flexibility.
If you’re struggling to bend down and tie your shoes, but you can curl 60 pound dumbbells, you need to spend more time warming up!
Having good flexibility and a solid range of motion allows you to incorporate more workouts and variations into your routines. Your muscles will be ready for circuit training when you switch quickly between different exercises.
You will also have far more control over your muscles and stability of your reps, which allows you to extend and contract the appropriate muscles more efficiently.
Have you ever been hurt playing sports and the coach’s first response is “You should have stretched”?
It is common for athletes to stretch dynamically before and after exercise in order to reduce risk of injury and increase performance. Stretching improves your muscle’s elastic abilities.
We all know that pumped feeling doesn’t last, the blood and lactic acids leave your muscles eventually. However, because you don’t stretch the muscle out, it stays in a semi-contracted state for far too long. Over time, this actually decreases the range of motion your muscle can perform. Maybe not at first, but multiply that semi-contracted state by a year of workouts, and your looking at tight connective tissue that could cause issues.
Stretch it out.
Fitness junkies and weight lifters will berate the need for stretching until the cows come home. They hate stretching because they claim it decreases the ‘pump.’
What if I said stretching actually increased muscle growth?
Your fascia is connective tissue that encloses your muscles and run along your skeletal system. Building muscle over time pushes them to where they “become compressed along the fascia” according to BodyBuilding.com. When this happens, further muscle growth is hindered by the limited expansion of your fascia.
The only way to target and expand your fascia is… you guessed it: Stretching, this includes foam rolling. Stretching also increases blood flow to your muscles, increasing the ‘pumped’ feeling and helping your muscles recover more quickly from your workouts. It loosens up the fascia and creates more ‘room’ for your muscle to expand.
The bottom line is, optimal muscle growth is only achievable through routine stretching and taking care of your muscles.
As a sidetone, stretching has just as many mental and spiritual benefits as well as physical. It’s the reason pilates has become such a popular craze, and why yoga is associated with meditation, bodily wellness, and physical fitness. It’s not only good for your body, its good for your mind, and it’s good for stress.
Next time you head to the gym, make sure you stretch.
Stay Koko Strong!
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About Michael Wood, Chief Fitness Officer
Michael Wood, CSCS, is Chief Fitness Officer at Koko FitClub, driving the development of integrated strength and cardio training and nutrition programs for Koko members nationwide. A nationally acclaimed fitness expert, Michael has conducted research as a Senior Exercise Physiologist at the Nutrition, Exercise Physiology and Sarcopenia Laboratory at the Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, and has lectured at Boston University and the University of Connecticut. He has been named Boston Magazine’s “Best of Boston” Personal Trainer, and made the Men’s Journal “Dream Team” list of the nine best trainers in the U.S. Michael and his family live in North Attleboro, MA.