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We all know we *should* stretch, but hands up who is probably doing a lot less than they should? We spoke to Bec Chidiac, co-owner of Peaches Pilates, to explain what we’re doing to our body when we neglect this very important form of self-care.
Our bodies do a lot for us, much more than we give them credit for. An easy way to thank our body for all its hard work keeping us upright and transporting us across the room to the fridge is to stretch, but of course, our busy lives are a constant barrier to self-care.
When we do get around to looking after our flesh house with exercise, we usually prioritise sweating profusely and stretching takes a back seat, but the reality is we need stretching to help our bodies do the other stuff we demand of it.
“Our joints and muscles are used all day, every day. Regular stretching helps the muscles stay strong and flexible, increases range of motion in the joints and improves balance. All of which contribute to reducing your chances of injury,” says Bec Chidiac, co-owner of Peaches Pilates.
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“Adding stretching into your daily or weekly routine also gives you the chance to slow down, focus on some breathing and reduce stress.”
How much time you dedicate to stretching is up to you, but Chidiac says five to 10 minutes every day is much more valuable than an hour every couple of weeks.
“Even if you are not working out, stretching the body at some point in your day is so valuable,” she says.
“Whether we spend our days hunched over at a desk, nursing a baby or are on our feet serving coffee, we need to give back to our bodies.”
Ok, so we know it’s important, but considering we’re a pretty consequence-driven society, we need to know: what are we doing to our bodies when we don’t stretch regularly (totally asking for a friend)?
There are both short and long-term effects, says Chidiac, and neither of them sound particularly appealing.
“Short term, you might experience muscle tightness, an injury and you may notice that your body feels more fatigued than usual. Long term, it can affect your balance and contribute to muscle degeneration,” she says.
When you do hit the gym or whatever your chosen exercise, stretching at both ends of your workout is important. Before should focus on dynamic stretching, i.e. stretching with movement, and after should incorporate holding a stretch in place for a period of time.
The most important thing to remember is that “stretching doesn’t have to be the boring part of your workout,” says Chidiac.
“We always program our workouts so the warm-up/dynamic stretch motivates you for the movement ahead. Then the cool-down/static stretch at the end winds you down and sets a tone for your day or evening.”
So now, there’s no excuse.
You’ll find Peaches Pilates in Bondi, Maroubra, and Cronulla.