Seriously! How bendy do you need to be?
Ladies, seriously how bendy do you need to be? This is not in any way me saying that stretching, yoga, pilates, barre etc. are ‘bad’ because not only do I think those things are very useful, but I feel there is a use for just about every type of modality and tool. These types of activities are very complimentary to training but too many use this as their sole training. It simply comes down to the who, why, how and what of it all. Range of motion is uber important but much like all things, too much is not a good thing.
As promised from my Instagram clip that got cut 2 minutes short and converted to YouTube :-p
below are two stretches that I have found people really enjoy, especially the second. For the first, you want to be sure that your hands are under your shoulders and that you are not hyperextending your lumbar spine (lower back). To help prevent this, engage your glutes and extend your hips into the ground and hold that as you breathe in deep and press yourself upward. For the second stretch, if you are looking to your left, you will be rotating from your thoracic spine (upper back), not twisting your low back, while pressing the right hip downward to the ground to take the stretch further, while engaging your right glute to help prevent twisting of your low back and to maybe help alleviate potential vulnerability at the SI joint. This is a really nice stretch for the typically overactive hip flexors. Hold each for a few seconds and don’t force anything. Be sure that you either do this after a workout, after foam rolling or a hot bath so your muscles and body are warm and more pliable. Even better yet is to do your recovery stuff on your non-training days or just not surrounding your workout.
The data on stretching, of really any kind, seems to support shorter intervals in terms of particularly static as too much may cause inflammation, injury susceptibility or a decrease in performance (1,2,3). It can also be a huge waste of time if you are doing it around your training and only have so much time. Be sure you look beyond that statement mmmkay 😉 as there is far more to it. What I will tell you, though, that you do not need to look beyond, and the point of my post is something I guess I took for granted. I didn’t realize that there are still shit tons of women out there who are not doing real resistance training and are only doing yoga, pilates and barre. Those activities are awesome, especially for what they do, relax you, but you need more, you really do!
Women, we are generally already prone to hypermobility or joint laxity, a lower level of strength and muscle mass (aka a proper balance)both of the above which will help you stave off a horrid body composition as you get older and most importantly, help you stay independent. Please stop prioritizing the exact things that you do not need. If you had a baby or are expecting to, you will be even worse off if that is all you are doing. Do you have back problems yet? Well if not, I can’t say that I would be surprised if that’s coming. If you do have back problems, please stop stretching it out for the temporary relief, which btw, seems to be the real benefit of any stretching, relaxation especially if you are spastic but that’s a whole other topic. Seriously stop streching your lower backs, work on your hips more and stabilize what your stretching all of the damn time.
My point is, change up your priorities in terms of the activities you are doing with your health and fitness time…just a weee bit please and thank me later 🙂 There is nothing wrong with stretching and I highly advocate chilling out with deep breathing and mindfulness, but if you think you are going to lengthen and tone your muscles or lose fat with these forms of activities only, forget it. I really don’t care about being ‘right’ I care about helping you so any input or questions are always welcome! Hope you find some help in this 🙂
- Resnik, D., & Boltz, M. (2016). Annual Review of Gerontology and Geriatrics – Optimizing Physical Activity and Function Across Settings (Vol. 36). Retrieved November 22, 2016.
Apostolopolous, N., Metsios, G. S., Taunton, J., Koutedakis, Y., & Wyon, M. (2015). Acute Inflammation Response to Stretching: A Randomised Trial. Italian Journal of Sports Rehabilitation and Posturology, 2(4), 368-381. doi:10.17385/ItalJSRP.015.3008.
- Sands, W. A., & McNeal, J. R. (2016). 16 Flexibility. Strength and Conditioning for Sports Performance, 387.