By: Bryan Ball
It’s fair to say that everyone in the 21st century is more inflexible than we have ever been. From sitting too long during the day, leaning over on a computer or cell phone (which I still am guilty of at times), or have not been active in mobility/flexibility work. Whether you are an athlete, weekend warrior, or any everyday desk worker we should all be stretching in one way or another. With the introduction of Yoga in the West and its ever-growing popularity, flexibility training has gotten a new face. Now, this isn’t t say that yoga is for everyone, however, it is a great option to explore and in this blog, we will be discussing where yoga stands against standard flexibility training and mobility work.
Starting with the standard idea of “stretching”, we were all in P.E. and our gym teacher made us do various stretches,
“Touch your toes, however, you get there is fine. Open your hips and flap ‘em like a butterfly. Do a couple of jumping jacks and we’re good!”
While their heart is in the right place we have often been taught wrong in how we should warm up and cool down and when to use “dynamic stretching” versus “static stretching”. Dynamic stretching is when you have a more exaggerated movement and are moving the muscle as opposed to stretching it out and holding it in that elongated position. Static stretching is just that, stretching, pulling, and holding a target muscle to elongate it. Both have benefits to performance and flexibility but where you put them in your workout is crucial. Dynamic stretches are best put in the front of the workout because this not only allows your muscles and ligaments to gradually warm-up, it also warms up the entire body and targeted muscles (as opposed to pulling them to their max tension cold and non-stimulated). Static stretching has been shown to be most effective at the end of a workout due again to your muscles being heated and fatigued, therefore more stretchable. One should try to do both before and after every workout for maximum results in the standard practice of stretching.
Yoga is not only a great way to stay flexible but can also be utilized for weight loss, muscle growth and mental wellness! Having many different styles and environments yoga is a much more inviting form of fitness because you can adjust the experience to your level and goals. Yoga is a great tool to explore during your fitness journey because it combines both static and dynamic stretching through its various flows and poses. Some people like to use yoga as either their warm-up or cool down, varying the stretches to the needed purpose. Requiring much more mind muscle connection for balance, core engagement, and awareness of your form, yoga can feel more like a sport than a relaxing art form. Luckily even if yoga isn’t your favorite part of your fitness routine it has been shown that up to 15 minutes of yoga can show benefits in flexibility. So don’t think that you have to go through an hour and a half of folding yourself like a piece of origami in order to touch your toes. If you do want to try yoga try finding a local studio or instructor near you so you can have guidance on forms and the best method of yoga for you.
If you don’t know how to warm up on your own you’re in luck! Below you will find a warm-up routine that you can use before any workout, and for video examples please check out our Instagram page: @xcelperformancebtown