If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old. IF it is completely flexible at 60, you are young - Joseph Pilates.
You know that rubber band that’s been left unloved on your desk for a couple of months? Yeah, you - I know it’s there, and I want you to know that it needs your attention.
You see, the muscles in your body are like rubber bands - if you left one without a flex for a while to give it a slight push, CRACK: goodbye Mr Elastic.
Alright, I’ll accept it - I’m being a bit dramatic, but you can seriously damage yourself without a stretch and foam roller program which has been set by a qualified professional. Your mate Dave at the gym who can bench press elephants probably isn't the best person to advise a runner how best to stretch and roller!
I know that warming up and cooling down doesn’t seem much of a priority in the shadow of aesthetic improvement, diet and overall fitness, but, trust me, it’s definitely worth the time.
Here are some benefits of doing yourself a favour either side of exercise:
It’s that cylinder-shaped pad often left lonely in the corner of your living room or under the stairs, but its benefits include:
1. Breaking up muscle adhesions:
Foam rolling releases trigger points when you’re feeling tender from a long run, and this can ease tight, sore and painful muscles which can be caused by tight connective tissue.
2. Being the Messi to your body’s defence:
Your body goes more defensive than West Brom when you’re stretching a cool muscle - this stops you going full motion when you’re on the move. Foam rolling will engage your muscles to make sure you get everything from the coming exercise.
3. It’s Alkali:
Lactic acid build-up is reduced by using this piece of equipment - it’s a great way of removing that pinch on the next 10k.
If nothing else, take this from me - a roller will keep you injury free for longer meaning you can train better and more consistently.
1. You’ll Get More Out of the Next Session:
It might seem that flexibility is for Yoga fans but stretching will give you better form in any workout - deeper are the squats, more complete is any curl and faster is that last effort. Let’s stop pretending to ignore that niggle in your calf: banish it!
2. It Improves Your Posture:
We all feel great when we’re sitting up straight at the day job, and tight muscles play the part of weak muscles well enough to win an Oscar - when you’ve not stretched, you’ll compensate by relying on other muscles and slouching.
I won’t pretend stretching gets rid of any chance of injury, but it helps prepare the body for the activity ahead, enhances recovery and a return to normal state after exercise and helps you to focus on proper positioning during exercise - in anything from a jog round the park to 2 hours in the gym.
Let’s make foam rolling and proper stretching as important as that post session protein shake or beer (alcohol free obviously!) - you’ll thank yourself for it when you jump out of bed the next day.
Also, if you don't know how to stretch, warm-up, cool down or use your foam roller - ASK FOR HELP! There are lots of people who don't know how to do it so don't feel embarrassed to find someone that can help you out - and as ever if you have any questions please get in touch.
Rob, Norwich’s Sport Performance Guy
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