How are you spending your leisure time this summer? Long walks on the beach? Hiking the trails at your nearby park? Games of doubles on the tennis court? Golf? Gardening? Swimming? Cycling with kids? Flexibility—and we’re talking the muscular kind here, although a go-with-the-flow attitude is also an asset–makes every activity you do a little easier and a little more successful. How do you maintain or improve your flexibility? Regular stretching.
“When you don’t stretch, certain muscle groups shorten and become tight over time,” says Hannah Karass Vice President of Programs and Science for Curves and Jenny Craig. “Sitting for long periods, for example, shortens your hamstrings and your hip flexors. And many women carry their stress in their shoulders, which tenses and tightens those muscles. Stretching restores flexibility and length.” With flexibility, your muscles and joints are able to work through their full range of motion. Your swim stroke, your golf or tennis swing, and even your walking stride are fluid and highly functional when muscles are flexible, and performance is enhanced.
Of course, physical activity can also cause muscles to tighten. Think back to that feeling of stiffness you had after a particularly lengthy or vigorous bout of activity. Regular stretching helps keep you loose and ready to play.
Flexibility can help prevent pain and injury, too. Tight muscles are more easily strained or torn when you’re reaching across the garden bed to pull weeds or extending to return a tennis serve or picking up the pace on a morning stroll with friends. Also, tightness in one spot can cause problems in another. Let’s revisit those hamstrings. When they’re tight they put more stress on the muscles in your lower back, and unrelenting stress can lead to back pain.
Despite all the benefits, stretching is often overlooked. Be honest, have you sometimes walked out the door of your Curves without doing your post-circuit stretches? Some days it just feels as though we only have time for the main course no sides, even though we should consider stretching an integral part of the whole.
The Curves Stretch and Strength Class* does just that, integrating stretches into the circuit—you’ll do 30 seconds on a resistance machine followed by 30 seconds of stretching and so on twice around for a total of 30 minutes. (And, by the way, Karass still recommends that you stretch before you walk out the door.) The class hits all your major muscle groups so you have balanced flexibility throughout.
Consider making the Stretch and Strength Class* a regular part of your fitness routine, so that you can enjoy fully all the fun that summer has to offer.
* Stretch and Strength class – This fitness class is a full body workout designed to strengthen and lengthen muscles. Specific exercises are performed in between strength machines on the Curves circuit and focus on stretching the muscles you’ve just worked. This helps to restore and improve flexibility as you work to increase your strength.