Daily stretching is a must for dancers, but it’s just as important for everyone else, and it becomes more valuable as we age. One of the primary benefits of stretching is increased flexibility, which means greater range of movement. Stretching also helps prevent injury; strains, sprains or tears are much less likely to happen to a flexible body.
Exercises with weights, running, biking and even dance are all demanding on the muscles. If they aren’t stretched out after every workout, over time they become shorter and tighter, creating a body that is strong… but not supple. As you increase your flexibility, you decrease your chances of getting injured.
Many common injuries are preventable with regular stretching:
1. Back problems: often stem from a tight psoas muscle, which runs down the front of the hips and pelvis. Try runner’s lunge to create more flexibility in the area.
2. Torn achilles’ tendon: Stretch calves and achilles’ tendons by standing on the balls of your feet at the edge of a stair or phonebook, pressing the heels down toward the ground.
3. Shoulders: avoid tears with a simple shoulder-opening exercise, using a strap or tie. Sit cross-legged or on the feet. Grab both ends of the strap. Inhale and bring the strap up overhead, then exhale and bring it down behind the body to the ground. Keep the arms straight the entire time. Let the hands slide further apart on the strap as necessary.
Regular stretching (at least 2-3 times per week) brings results. Make it a part of every workout, both before and after. Your body will be glad you did.