31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence: #4 Start Stretching

31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence is a series of simple, easy-to-implement tips that produce significant gains in performance for minimal effort. While they may not give instant, tangible results (e.g. drinking a glass of water in the morning will not knock 30 seconds off your run time) they will contribute towards improved performance over the course of the season.

Previous tips in the series include:

#1: Drink Water First Thing in the Morning
#2: Write Down Your Goals (Now!)
#3: Ask an Expert

Today’s tip is: Start Stretching

Stretch Armstrong and the benefits of stretching and flexibility

Many people cut corners, convincing themselves they have no time to stretch after working out, instead filling their practice with hard work and a quick warm down.

However, stretching is worth the time invested, even if you cut short your hard efforts by 10 minutes. In addition to relaxing your muscles after a good session, you can:

  • Improve your flexibility: helps with rotation in the pool, tight hip flexors on the bike, a stiff back on the run and overall injury prevention.
  • Alleviate lower back pain: which can be caused by tight muscles in your lower back, hamstrings and hips.
  • Increase your range of motion: which in turn will improve your balance, kick your legs harder on the run, reach further on the swim
  • Reduce general stress levels: by relaxing tense muscles such as your neck, shoulders, jaw wrists, etc. The zen of yoga will help mentally as well as physically too.
  • Improve your posture: as tight, constricted muscles will lead to stooped backs and hunched shoulders. Stretching both loosens and elongates them.

You should also stretch as part of your warm-up – once your muscles are warm, e.g. after a light jog.

Stretching can take the form of static (hamstring stretch while lying on your back), or dynamic exercises such as leg swings and ankle circles.

Finally you can incorporate a foam roller before and after your workout to loosen tight, sore muscles.

So, make like Stretch Armstrong and reap the benefits. Just 10 minutes a day will produce benefits.

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