I will admit that I have tight hamstrings and calf muscles. I will also admit to being terrible at stretching them. I also am guilty of telling my patients on a daily basis that they need to stretch so clearly there is something wrong with this picture.
When thinking about tight muscles, especially in the absence of a true musculoskeletal problem, why is stretching such a big deal? Why does flexibility matter? Should you really be doing a daily yoga program? And finally, why am I having such a difficult time stretching out muscles that I know need my attention, especially when I know better!
Let’s tackle the “ why” for flexibility first. Tight muscles create an imbalance with how your body and joints function. The bones and joints of your body have been fit together in a very precise way, they are also designed to move in a certain pattern. When tight muscles pull on your bones and shift this precision, it creates an abnormal movement pattern, which can, in very small doses, create abnormal wear and tear on a joint. Eventually, this abnormal wear and tear can create a problem that will need to be addressed by a medical professional. Ideally, you would prevent this as much as possible and stretching (and maintaining good posture and alignment!) will help keep your joint moving smoothly through daily activities.
Now, how often do you need to stretch? Principles of tissue lengthening teach us that consistency is key. Muscle lengthening can take 8-12 weeks for full elongation to take place and the only way this is possible is with consistent stretching on a daily basis. Ideally this would be performed 3 times per day for 1-2 minutes, for that particular muscle. If you think of a typical stretching routine, none of us are doing enough to target these tight areas of our body! Yoga is starting to sound a lot more necessary isn’t it?
So to recap, stretching tight muscles is necessary to allow your body to move properly. To be preventative, that you want to minimize any problems with your body as much as possible. In the world of fitness, cardio and strength training get a lot of attention. Flexibility and stretching aren’t as popular, but really need to be your friend. If you don’t have adequate flexibility, let’s say in your hamstrings, it will be very difficult to be able to properly perform a deadlift. If your form is compromised with a deadlift, that excess strain will need to be taken up somewhere else, and typically this will be in your low back. Perform those reps 10-20 times, 3 times per week and add 20# to the deal, and eventually your back is going to let you know it is not happy with this off balanced arrangement.
So, should you start doing daily yoga? Not necessarily. As I mentioned before, stretching your tight muscle only needs about 3 minutes per day. Maybe you have three muscles that really need your attention, that’s still less than 10 minutes total to address this muscle tightness. You could be creative about stretching. Maybe while your lunch is warming in the microwave for 2 minutes you get a hamstring or gastroc stretch in. While doing dishes, you get a standing hip flexor stretch in. If your mind is swimming thinking, how the heck do I even stretch my gastroc? Or even better, what is my gastroc? Don’t worry, I’ll include pictures of some simple stretches you can do. Now if you want to really level up and get that amazing feel good, full body stretch of yoga, then by all means, jump into it. I’d recommend seeking out the website: www.doyogawithme.com for a free profile and highly customizable options. Yoga also provides relaxation and breathing techniques that can provide additional full body benefits. So should you do more yoga? Probably. I do want to caution, that even something good can create a problem, so please listen to your body and don’t ever over stretch or force your body to move in a direction that doesn’t feel good. Stretching isn’t supposed to hurt.
So why am I so unmotivated to spend 10 minutes per day stretching? There are a lot of reasons for lack of motivation that are more than what I want to dig into right now. Most likely, I don’t see why it’s important for me. I am not yet experiencing, on a pain level, the impact my tight hamstrings and calf muscles are having on the rest of my body. I’m carving out time for a run and strength training session, but not giving my body the blessing of a good stretch. Here are some simple ways I can try to incorporate more stretching into my day:
There are other creative ways to incorporate stretching into your daily routine, whether it is linked with another activity, before, after or during, or you just make a stretching session part of your morning or afternoon routine. Stretching isn’t going to completely eliminate a future musculoskeletal problem, but it can make it easier for your body to recover from, less severe or less of a problem when it does arise.
So do your body a favor and stretch it out.
Katie works as a Physical Therapist in Alpena, MI. She enjoys running, biking, baking and hanging out with her husband and 3 kids!
Dear Fitness Inspirers,
I'm here and I want to coach you! I would love to coach you at the highest level I’m offering right now which is the VIP package, but if that is not the right fit for you right now or yet. The Inspired level of the signature program is just phenomenal, and it will rock your world if you let it! It will give you the tools, the coaching, the accountability and team! It will help you show up for better health in 2021! And a better mindset, waist line if that makes sense for you as well, and other positive ripple effects are here when you notice.
With the virtual options that all of us need for 2021, I don’t need to put a cap on these two groups. But we made the decision to anyway. Because I want to know who my team is! I want us to show up for each other, and for your goals too! I am so excited to see your potential in real life! I promise you, if you stretch yourself, if you challenge yourself even a little bit each workout/program/session on repeat, you will amaze your self/family/friends/team with how much you are capable of!
I am going into this year, with renewed and fierce belief with what you are capable of. With what this Fitness Inspired community is capable of. And the ripple effect of positive impact and the decision to invest in ourselves like we invest in others. Your generosity, joy, knowledge and impact will overflow when we “but first” make the choice to put some water in our cup to start our days and keep on doing that!
Here’s to you! Here’s to 2021! There are seven spots left in our VIP level right now let me know if you want in on that or the Inspired level!
You’re A Star!
Happy Fall y'all! Below are the bullets/cliffnotes if you will of this episode with the same name on Making Changes You Love to Live With Podcast, where I go into more detail and of course invite you to take a little walk in the crisp fall air or drink some fall inspired tea while you enjoy the listen too!
Who feels better when they have great energy?! Me. Me. Me and I can always feel it when I’m around people at a workout or around someone in general what their energy is! If we are being honest, we know that this makes a difference right? The energy we bring to a situation and what vibes other people are bringing makes a difference! We are in the middle of a fired up 4 day challenge here at Fitness Inspired and I wanted to share these 3 ways we can do to get and keep us fired up!
How do you get and stay fired up?! Any hacks you practice to keep your mind right and pump you up to bring your best self to the situation?
Here are five strategies you can try that I think could really help you when you are not feeling motivated! Or maybe you are in a downward spiral of emotion or mindset muck (like I was the other day ). Or it could be that you keep on not doing and being the person you set out to be.
Yeah, me too! I want you to start by doing two things: 1) know that you are not alone! 2) Let’s take a big deep breath together, hold the air in, and blow out the air with a long exhale. I wanted to share a few ways we can all use exercise as medicine (please note I am not a doctor and this doesn’t replace any medical advice) to help during this time. Think of exercise as an incredible tool, especially if you are feeling like your schedule, sleep, or stress is out of hand! Check and see if one of these ways of looking at exercise helps you, and I invite you to disregard anything that doesn’t apply to you, and your current situation. Don’t forget to apply these tips in a safe way given our current health and pandemic recommendations :)
If you didn't already, be sure to check out Part One of this post HERE.
FUEL YOUR BODY (AND MIND) THE BEST YOU CAN
What we are consuming for our physical body and what we are consuming for our mental and emotional health matters! Period. end of story, right? Yes, it matters. Now what do we do about it? There are several traps I see people in the middle of and find myself in the midst of too at times. Here are some strategies that have worked for me and other Fitness Inspirers too. I will go through a list of ideas for you— give yourself some grace, find one that feels good to you, and be proud of yourself for even going “there.” Bring your awareness to what and when and how much of what types of food, drink, water, media you are consuming? It helps a lot of people to get it down on paper. Ask yourself some questions, one idea—does this feel healthy for me in this season of life right now? Another idea is what I call the “But First” principle. You know the shirts that say But First, coffee? It goes with this idea if we can change just one thing, change what you lead each meal with for example, But First, I eat my veggies. And what we start our day with, and out of transition how do we start our next “thing.” This has been a life-changing principle that so many Fitness Inspirers are so happy to have adopted! Your day just goes that much better when you start your day with a workout for an example.
As I write this, gyms are closed, social distancing is becoming increasingly important and there is fear of the unknown. With this current reality, it's easy to get in a head-spin of fear and negativity. However, we don't want to live in that place for long or often. Research tells us, and I think we all know deep down, that getting stuck in fear will erode our mental and physical health. Like always, we have a choice of how we will react to our situation. Will we stay down or will we rise? We have an opportunity to make the best out of this situation and we ALL have it in us to do so! Let's get some strategy and tools to stay healthy, strong, and inspired during difficult times like now.
Fitness inspired is here to support you in this temporary new normal.
The hardest thing for me at a time like this is the unknown. And right now is no different. I have been hearing from some of you and we are having a cocktail of fears, uncertainty, overwhelm, and big emotions. My best strategy that I have to reverse this spiral -is to get into action. Physical action and strategic action to take even the smallest step forward will help!
No one would blame you right now for shutting down, living in a state or overwhelm and trying to firefight all these issues that may or may not even come true. But I think we can agree that’s not going to serve us. So let’s do this thing! And each day let’s choose courage and get into action.
Let’s get into action together and focus on the foundations that will keep us and our families healthy and strong (mentally and physically).
How can you focus on something you can control and get into action?
Here are a few ideas to try:
Would love to hear what strategies are working for you right now and if you have any other ideas!
Drumroll please for our next challenge>>>>>>you’re going to want to do this challenge especially if you have any traveling or vacation plans in the next couple months!! If not save this challenge and stop whatever you are doing (after you listen of course ?) and get a mini or full vaca on the books ?☀️?
#fitnessinspiredchallenge #vacationgoals #travelwithfitnessinspired #healthyANDrefreshed #livefitnessinspired
I am a passionate, adventure-seeking, fitness entrepreneur who loves having fun, my family and friends, a challenge, and creating a positive impact (to name a few :))!