Stretch it Out
Back in high school, my cheerleading coach always began practice by making us run a couple of laps and then stretch for about 15 minutes—first rolling our necks and shoulders and then stretching the rest of our upper and lower bodies.
I remember feeling annoyed and bored. I didn’t think it was necessary, and I felt I was wasting my time.Even after I left high school, I still hated stretching. I had a busy schedule, and didn’t have much time for working out, so I started skipping stretching completely. I developed painful shin splints, and my muscles struggled to recover between workouts. Before long, I found myself skipping visits to The Rec because of the pain. I stopped making progress, and I found myself truly wasting time.
Since then, I’ve learned that not only is stretching not an obstacle, but that it helps me to be stronger and healthier by preventing injuries and helping my muscles to recover. I soon began stretching my muscles after my workouts, although I would limit my stretches to the muscles I’d worked that day. This helped some, but I slowly realized I was still neglecting some important muscles—my neck and shoulders. Many of us overlook these muscles, and I know several people who had to seek professional help because of it.
Many of these problems are caused by bad posture. As students, we sit a lot, whether in class, studying or driving. It’s easy to forget about maintaining these muscles and keeping them properly engaged. Here is a helpful video on how to sit properly, which can help you avoid stiffness and pain in your neck and shoulders.
Now I stretch after every workout and my body feels better than ever! Stretching has also increased my flexibility, which allows me to target more muscles as I work out. If you don’t have time to get a full stretch or workout in, check out The Rec’s short video series on “Deskercises." These short videos can help you maintain good posture in a work or study environment.
Medically speaking, stretching helps increase blood flow throughout your body, which allows for more oxygen to reach your muscles and brain. This helps you to recover from the workout while keeping your muscles healthy and ready to grow.
For more information, check out this great resource on the benefits of stretching.
Be well, Auburn.
Photography: Cat S.