Strike a Balance
At Rêve we are constantly in pursuit of workouts that challenge us in new ways. From Tone and Trim to spin, we work hard to meet our fitness goals. However, it is easy to lose sight of the importance of stretching as an essential element to this process. A report from Harvard Medical School summarized the importance of stretching:
"Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage."
When you overlook stretching as part of a complete work out, you put yourself at increased risk for injury as your muscles may not be prepared to withstand the impact of activity. Additionally, when done right, stretching is a great way to build strength. In this post, we offer some advice to consider the next time you hop on the bike. Read on for some helpful tips!
The Warm Up
Before the first song plays, focus on preparing your body for the following 50 minutes, with a quick routine that focuses on a range of muscles central to your time on the bike. Specifically, your shoulders, neck, and wrists. As you warm up your legs, target these areas with some slow, easy movements, such as shoulder and neck rolls, that will loosen up your upper body and get you ready for your best ride.
Recent studies have shown that in order to maximize the potential benefits of stretching, your muscles should be warmed up. In fact, stretching prior to any movement may result in injury or generally decrease the efficiency with which you work out. As you stretch, be sure to never engage in “ballistic stretching”—otherwise known simply as bouncing—as it exceeds the natural limits of your body.
Counteracting the Desk Job
For those of us who work at a desk for the majority of the day, stretching serves to directly counteract the negative impact that sitting for long periods of time has on your body. Consider integrating a routine stretching break into your workdays, which will help ensure that you are in the best possible condition when you arrive at the studio. It will only take a few minutes and the effects will be major.
Complimentary Yoga Practice
In addition to a quick series of stretches at the beginning or end of a class, we also recommend adopting a routine yoga practice to compliment the cardiovascular elements of your workouts. Yoga balances movement with poses that emphasize stretching to increase overall mobility and flexibility. Plus, not only does yoga provide a structured time to engage in targeted stretches, but we can’t say enough about the positive effects we find on our mental well-being.
If you have any questions about specific stretches or how it can help you meet your fitness goals more generally, please ask any of our instructors for help or guidance. Additionally, be sure to check out Haley’s Vinyasa Yoga classes on Wednesdays at 5:30!