As a former dancer I know what it is like to be extremely flexible. I danced from the age of 2 1/2 until I was 19. When I was 19 I was diagnosed with Cohrn’s Disease. I got extremely sick for close to a month and then was put in the hospital for five days since they could not figure out what was wrong. Because of all of this and then being bed ridden for five days all of my muscles atrophied. (I lost 15 pounds in a little less than two weeks.) Once I was getting better and getting stronger I did not take into account that as I rebuilt my muscle I also needed to rebuild my flexibility. I did, however, regain some of my flexibility when I began training for bikini competitions. I would really try to stretch when I was done with my workouts because what I was doing was also taking a toll on my body. I knew that by stretching it would help with my muscle soreness and also help my recovery time in-between workouts.
Once I got pregnant though I stopped working out and in turn stopped stretching on a regular basis. I am now to the point where I am realizing how much I need to be stretching and how good it is for the body. Especially after having a baby because pregnancy changes your body so much and is really hard on your body. When I was younger I would do extreme stretching which I am not even attempting at all now. After doing some research extreme stretching is not good on your joints and ligaments. Even though this is something that is starting to become a craze that is being shown all over Instagram and Pinterest.
If you have started to notice tightness in your hips and back I really suggest trying to stretch your legs at least a couple times a week. This will help you feel so much better. You don’t have to do anything extreme either in order to see some results and feel some of the benefits of stretching. Something as simple as leaning over and trying to touch your toes is a great stretch that you can do in the morning before you get dressed. It also helps to wake up your body. Just make sure to take it really easy since your muscles are not really warmed up. I do this sometime to just help get my blood flowing and really wake up my body.
Personally, I like to stretch before I go to bed. Since I have been walking around all day my muscles are already warmed up and I am able to watch some tv or listen to podcasts and stretch for a half hour or so after I put little man to bed. It really seems to help focus and quiet my mind after a long day. I know a lot of people are really into yoga which is a great form of exercise. I just have never been the type to really enjoy yoga all that much. I would much rather stretch and connect with my mind and my body by doing movements and stretches that my body is still familiar with from my ballet days. Sometimes I am also able to stretch when I am playing with Ray. I use the time when we are playing with mega blocks or when we are coloring to stretch. Stretching when I am playing with him is not as peaceful or mindful but sometimes I am feeling extra stiff and it is the perfect time since I am already on the floor playing with him.
Some of the benefits of stretching include
– Enabling flexibility
– Helping with posture
– Improve energy levels by helping blood circulation
– Helps to improve your overall outlook on life
– It also helps to reduce soreness after workouts
If you are new to stretching some things to remember are to strive for symmetry. A lot of times our bodies are more flexible on one side. Just because one side is “better” than the other does not mean that you should hold a stretch longer on the side that is not as flexible. Typically you should hold your stretches for 30-60 seconds. If you hold for longer you can risk injury to your joints. Another thing to remember is to never bounce in your stretch. I know back in the day when I was dancing that is what they taught us to do, however, it has now been shown to cause more harm than good.
Most importantly, if you want to see improvements, make sure you are keeping up with stretching and making it part of your weekly routine. You will definitely start to see and feel the difference!
*Information on this page is from my own personal experience and research. Always be sure to speak with your doctor before beginning any workout or stretching routines or programs.