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Stretching for Overall Wellness

Stretching for Overall Wellness

Kevin Hudson

Flexibility is paramount for anyone desiring a long, pain free, and productive life.  As we age flexibility usually decreases without deliberate effort to maintain whatever level of flexibility you’re at.

People often ask, what’s the best time to stretch?  

Should I stretch before or after my work out?  Should I stretch additionally during the day besides my workout time?  If so, when’s the best time to do so?

Keep in mind a stretch is usually preceded by a warm up in the exercise world but a preceding warm up isn’t always necessary before a stretch. Heaven forbid, you were in a dangerous situation and about to be attacked by some random criminal, he or she isn’t going to give you time to warm up and stretch before you called to defend yourself or your loved ones.  

Maintaining a certain amount of ‘functional flexibility’ is important to everyday life. 

Functional flexibility is that flexibility you’ll need in an instant. If your dog were trapped in a house fire and you took off in a sprint to go get him out, you’d need this functional flexibility in order to take off and not rip a hamstring on the first few steps. 

To gain this functional flexibility you must discipline yourself to stretch at optimum times during the day. 

The morning stretch is good, but many people struggle with rising early enough to do an extended stretch.  It’s a great time to stretch and it’s usually a cold stretch if a work out isn’t incorporated as well. This cold stretch must be approached carefully, keeping in mind the connective tissue is cold and therefore missing the usual fluids that lubricate joints, ligaments, and tendons. 

If you’re not a morning person then you’re going to love the truth about the best time to stretch the ole body out.  The best time to stretch is at night time.  Within one hour of going to bed is by far the best time to stretch and therefore see the flexibility gains we’d like to see. 

Once a person goes to bed their body begins a rest mode.  The heart rate decreases, breathing slows down, and the body settles into a temporary dormant state.  For most of us, this means five to eight hours of no movement. Joints stiffen while the body goes into a repair mode. 

We’ve all woken up and immediately upon placing our first foot on the floor heard the myriad of cracks and crunches.  These cracks and crunches are the joints loosening back to their original state before taking that night of rest, during which a small case of rigor mortis has set in.   

Taking ten to 15 minutes prior to retiring for the evening and doing an extensive stretch can render huge benefits for those seeking maximum flexibility improvements.  

A series of rotational stretches followed by a series of dynamic stretches held for 10 to 20 seconds each will really do the trick.  Start at the neck with neck rotations, then move down the body with all ball joints.  Rotate shoulders, hips, and ankles. 

Then the tradition toe touch and some seated adductor stretches the feet spread will help fight that stiffen in the bed. 

 

Miss the mid-day stretch.  Miss the morning stretch, by all means, DON’T miss the evening stretch!

 

 

 

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