When you think of getting fit and strong, you probably think of sweat, high-intensity exercise and perhaps gasping for air—and if you’ve ever done a TIFFXO HIIT or FIGHTER workout, you’ll know exactly what I mean. However, it’s not all about lifting weights and getting your heart rate up. Stretching is just as important and is often an overlooked component.
Now, I’m not the stretch police but I can’t stress enough about the importance of stretching. (OK, maybe I do sound like the stretch police.) Not only do I properly warm up and cool down before and after exercise, but I also try and dedicate at least one training session a week to stretching—and on TIFFXO, these sessions are called Flow, my version of yoga.
“But why should I stretch?” I hear you ask. Here are five reasons why stretching it out is great for our health and upping our fitness game:
1. Increases blood flow
Stretching after exercise can improve circulation, which increases blood flow to your muscles. This shortens your recovery time and helps reduce DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness) which can sometimes last up to three days.
Recommended Tiff stretch: Hip opener with hamstring stretch.
2. Reduces injury
Cold muscles and tendons in the body have a higher chance of rupture, strain or sprain. But properly stretching before exercise can help. When you stretch, you not only ensure your muscles are well supplied with oxygen, but it raises your muscles’ temperature for optimal flexibility and efficiency.
Recommended Tiff stretch: Downward-facing dog with leg raise.
3. Improves flexibility
Exercise becomes easier when you’re more flexible and nimble – and much less uncomfortable. When your muscles are looser, you’ll also experience fewer aches and pains allowing you to train harder and for longer. Flexibility takes time, so don’t rush it – and don’t compare yourself to super bendy yogis. If you start gently stretching every day, you’ll notice a big improvement in as little as a month.
Recommended Tiff stretch: Mermaid pose.
4. Reduces stress
Anything that reduces stress and anxiety gets a big yes from me. Stretching and yoga (or Flow) helps calm the mind, reduce blood pressure and slow down the breath. Stretching also lengthens the muscles to relieve any tension in the body.
Recommended Tiff stretch: Camel pose.
5. Improves posture
Want to stand tall and confident without wearing a pair of heels? You’ve got to stretch. Muscle imbalances are very common and result in slouching and lower back pain. However, strengthening and stretching specific muscle groups can help reduce musculoskeletal pain and encourage proper alignment. Good posture is also really important for those who have desk jobs and sit in front of a computer all day.
Want more from Tiff? You can find her on the Centr app, www.tiffxo.com and catch her in person at the next Fitness Show in Brisbane (13-14 July 2019) at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre. For more info and to get tickets, click here.