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Very often overlooked, even by those who are already exercising, there are lots and lots of benefits to stretching and flexibility. Our teacher at Premier Training always used to nag us by saying “the basis of all mobility is flexibility – no flexibility means no proper movement”. If you see an older person shuffling along the street this shuffling is most likely due to shortened hamstrings that are stopping the leg going forward all the way properly.
In all our sessions with a personal trainer we always do some dynamic stretching during the warm-up and then at the end of your session you get a full 10 minutes of static stretching where your trainer stretches you just like you see with the celebrities. This not only makes you feel a bit like a star, but provides more effective stretching than you would be able to do on your own, and will identify any tight areas that need extra work.
Muscles run across all our major joints, working the bones like the chains on a drawbridge. If these muscles become tight there can be severe implications such as increased risk of injury, poor posture, back problems, reduced range of movement, headaches and general aches and pains. As the body and the muscles are a kinetic chain, a tight calf muscle can cause a tight hamstring, which will tilt the pelvis and give you a bad back. So, a pain in the foot can be a pain in the neck. Inversely, the benefits of stretching are huge, here are some of them:
Increased range of motion
Reduced muscle tension and increased physical and mental relaxation
Reduced risk of joint and muscle sprains/minor and major injuries
Reduced risk of back problems
Decreased muscle soreness after exercise
Improved co-ordination through greater ease of movement and smoother muscle actions
Improved circulation and air exchange, especially in the muscles