Stretching for Strength
For years, I have lifted weights, and for years, I neglected to stretch those same muscles I was flexing and contracting routinely.
The result: I looked good, but I wasn’t very functional and was becoming increasingly less mobile. My back began to tighten up and was constantly sore and uncomfortable. Needless to say, I had to do a total 180 and start stretching for an hour a day to undo the imbalance I created.
Stretching has done wonders for my joints and muscles. Stretching reduces stress, increases blood flow and oxygen to organs and extremities, and improves mood and clarity of thought.
I actually feel more alive since I began stretching regularly. My muscles are just as strong, if not stronger, but they are also loose and unrestricted. Back pain has subsided tremendously. Soreness and tightness are a thing of the past.
The average male, almost never stretches, because he is so preoccupied with building muscle.
This is a mistake. Not stretching can actually inhibit muscle gain. A rubber band's potential strength is based on its degree of elasticity. The more it contracts and then is stretched, the greater it ability to contract and handle more load.
Our muscles work the same way. A gymnast or a martial artist has great strength and is incredibly muscular and lean, but he or she is also awesomely agile. Their strength is linked to their flexibility.
So, don’t go another day underestimating the power of stretching and flexibility. In the long run, it can save you from injuries and help you to live a pain-free lifestyle.
Omar King is a certified personal trainer at O2 Fitness in Raleigh. He is certified by the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America.
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