Stretching 101: Tips from an Expert

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Ex-professional dancer and founder of Lean Bean Fitness, Lizzie Bland, gives Bondi Beauty the 101 on Stretching.

Lizzie Bland is an ex-professional dancer turned fitness expert, and founder of Bondi’s Lean Bean Fitness studio, where she teaches Pilates, yoga and boxing.

This is Lizzie’s advice on how to get the most out of your stretching:

“While it can seem tedious to stretch after a big workout, keeping your body in good nick is so important. Regardless of whether or not you’re feeling ‘stiff,’ life takes a toll on your muscles and stretching is a great way to ensure that your tendons and muscles are kept in top form.

These 5 tips will ensure that you are getting the most out of your body by stretching the right way:

  1. Pick the right stretches

Before exercise or during the day, choose dynamic stretches – stretches that involve continuous movement of the body such as arm circles, lunges and spinal rotations. This helps prep and warm the body.

After exercise or before bedtime, opt for static stretches, holding each stretch for a minimum of 15 seconds to improve flexibility and calm the nervous system.

Stretch and Yin Yoga classes are great if you’re looking to improve flexibility and calm the nervous system. These classes also improve sleep quality and help lower stress levels.

  • Get comfortable with discomfort

We have receptors that link the brain to the muscles, protecting the joints from overstretching. While this is a good protective mechanism, these alerts can make stretching challenging and uncomfortable.

While you’re stretching, taking deep breaths and relaxing the body and the mind slow down these receptors and inform the brain that you are not in danger.

  • Use props

Around each of your muscles there is a layer of dense, fibrous tissue called fascia, which protects your organs, muscles and bones.

While you can’t physically ‘stretch; the fascia, massages and foam rolling get deep into the big muscle areas like the glutes and the quads.

Trigger point release ball is perfect for massaging in and around smaller areas like the hip joints.

Using these props as a part of your stretching routine will get deep into the muscles and can prevent muscle soreness after a workout.

  • Hydrate 

Your muscles are 80% water so even a slight dip in hydration levels can cause cramps, headaches and stiffness.

Water is also essential to transport nutrients around the body and flush out toxins, so make sure you’re drinking plenty of water throughout the day, especially when exercising and stretching.

  • Make it routine

A great way to make sure that you are fitting in stretches as part of your routine is set reminders on your phone telling you to get up, shake your legs and do a couple of stretches t get the blood flowing and refresh the brain.

Doing some arm circles in both directions, and kicking your heels to your bum open up the hips and shoulders and are a great way to release tightness when you’re sitting down for extended periods of time.”

Lizzie B from Lean Bean fitness

Click here to find out more about Lizzie B and the stretch classes offered at Lean Bean Fitness. Lean Bean Fitness in Bondi runs Stretchy Beans classes on Sundays at 10:15am.

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Sarah Carroll

CONTRIBUTOR

Sarah navigates health and fitness alongside a sinful sweet tooth and an unfortunate tendency to splash her savings online shopping, eating out or buying $10 cocktails at happy hour. With a love for yoga, animals and musical theatre, Sarah is rarely found without a peppermint-green tea in hand, tearing up over animal videos on Instagram.

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