To be honest, I’m someone who barely sets aside time for stretching. On a day to day basis, I wake up early in the morning, head straight for my workout class, and be it a strength, high intensity intervals, or a spin class, whenever I hear this sentence “the time now is xxx, for those who are rushing off to work, now is the time to leave”…I scoot off. I rush to the showers, rush to get changed and head straight to work. Minimal stretching is done, unless perhaps, if there is a queue for the showers. Then I’ll be like, okay, reach down and touch your toes, stretch out those tight hamstrings, or sometimes maybe bending my knees to the back for my quads stretch. But all these are done in a quick span of time, and only if I have that pockets of time to spare. Somehow, somewhat, I just fail to put stretching under my priority list, and amidst the hectic schedule and busyness, I don’t ever recall giving my body a good proper stretch.
Recently however, I had the rare chance to attend a yoga stretch class and description read “improve muscular flexibility by holding stretches for extended periods of time”…”wonderful complement to your slightly more athletic pursuits like cycling, running, and even lifting weights’ and I thought to myself, why not? Reasons why I never set aside time to do stretching or ever attended a stretch class was because I always felt that going for a high impact class was more value in terms of time, money, etc. Yet this notion dismisses the importance of stretching for your body. It’s not enough to build muscle and achieve fitness. You need to think about flexibility, too. Stretching helps to keep your muscles flexible, strong, and healthy. We also need flexibility to maintain a range of motion in our joints. Without it, our muscles shorten and become tight which may then increase the risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage. In our everyday life, majority of us spend 8 hours sitting on a chair and this causes different parts of your body to tighten up – especially your hip flexors, rectus femoris, pectoralis, upper traps, and anterior scalenes (the front of your neck). When these tight muscles are suddenly called on for a strenuous activity that stretches them, they may become damaged from suddenly being stretched. Regular stretching keeps muscles long, lean, and flexible, and this means that the exertion “won’t put too much force on the muscle itself”.
I survived the stretch class that day. Each stretch posture was held for at least 2-3 minutes long and it is definitely a misconception that stretch classes are relaxing and full of savasanas. My muscles were COL – crying out loud, as I tried my best to stay in the pose and not give up. Coupled with the teacher’s adjustments, my muscles never felt so stretched out before. Going forward, I wish to put in more effort in stretching everyday. Shan’t be overly ambitious and declare that I will go for stretch classes every day / week but at least for now, I will aim to commit 10-15 mins each night before I sleep.