Stretch the Stress Away: Maximizing Your Full Body Workout
Recent studies show, as a society, we have been more sedentary in the past 10 years than ever before throughout history.1 We spend an average of 10 hours a day sitting, either looking at a screen like a computer, tablet, television, or phone, or riding in a car. All this sitting leads to poor posture and tight muscles in most major muscle groups.
Sitting for long periods of time leads to tight hamstrings, which can cause lower back pain. Hours spent looking down at a phone, tablet, or laptop can lead to pain in your neck and upper back. And long commutes spent holding on to a steering wheel can cause tension and pain in your shoulders and upper back.
Thankfully, there’s a remedy for all the damage we are doing with our sedentary lifestyles: Stretching. Regular stretching helps keep muscles long, lean, healthy, and flexible, preventing injury and reducing pain. When you fail to properly stretch your muscles, they become shortened and tight. This leads to a decreased range of motion and joint misalignment, which prevents muscles from working as they should. And when your spine shifts out of alignment due to tight muscles, it prevents nutrients from moving properly throughout your system.
Get the Most Out from Your Full Body Workout with Stretching
You’ve probably learned, stretching is the third component to a complete full body workout. Unfortunately, it’s also the most frequently skipped portion of a total body workout because many people don’t understand and recognize the true benefit of stretching. By skipping the stretching portion of your Curves workout, you rob yourself of 1/3 of your workout rewards. Stretching after a workout helps your body cool down; as you focus on a stretch, your heart rate and breathing to return to normal. Stretching also prolongs the fat burning part of your workout. In addition, stretching improves flexibility, strengthens posture, prevents injury, calms your mind, and boosts energy. 2
Curves Stretching and Stress Management Health and Wellness Education Series
A few stretches featured in the Stretching and Stress Management Health and Wellness Education Series are:
Passive Neck Stretch
Place a rolled-up bath towel on the ground. Lay back so that the curve of your neck lays across the towel. This will cause your chin to tip up towards the ceiling slightly. This is a passive stretch. You want to focus on your breath as you hold this stretch for 30-seconds. Holding this stretch allows the levator scapulae and trapezius muscles to relax.
Stand with your feet hip-distance apart. Engage your core and bring your arms up out to the sides at shoulder-height. Now hinge forward at the hips, lowering your torso towards the ground. It’s important to maintain a neutral spine as you hold this stretch. You want to feel this in your hamstrings and glutes.
If you feel the need to incorporate more stretching into your full body workout, consider taking the 6-week Stretching and Stress Management class at Curves. Part of the Curves Health & Wellness Education Series, Stretching and Stress Management is a self-paced weekly class you can take from the comfort of your own home, plus weekly group coaching sessions with a real Curves Coach. The stress management portion of the course is very helpful during these particularly stressful times. Once a week, you’ll meet with your Curves Coach at your local club or virtually online to review what you’ve learned, demonstrate the exercise skills you’ve mastered, and address any questions you have. Your coach will become a trusted, valuable partner in helping you develop valuable health and fitness skills, so you can live a healthier, more rewarding life. Plus, you’ll connect with other like-minded women getting stronger together.