While you might not have noticed that Bodyflow was missing from last week's workouts, my body definitely did! So this week I made up for that up getting to Flow not only my typical three times (MWF) but five times this week. I feel so great, refreshed and glad that I made the extra effort to get to class several times over the past few days!!

For so many years, I neglected yoga and flexibility training as part of my regular workout routine. I thought 'working out' meant I needed to be doing some sort of cardio that had me dripping in sweat for several minutes so I'd burn a ton of calories. And, after doing said cardio I would just give myself a few brief leg and arm stretches and call it good. I rarely took a yoga class let alone adequately stretch my body following a workout.

Maybe it's getting older or maybe I'm getting smarter, but now, more than ever, I value the importance of flexibility and a good stretching session, yoga or Bodyflow class not just once but multiple times throughout the week. These classes are the perfect counter to some of the high intensity and heavy strength training sessions that are included in my weekly workouts. Where before I'd spend maybe one or two minutes tops after a workout to stretch, now I try to allow myself a good five sometimes ten or fifteen minutes post-workout to cool down my body and stretch out my muscles. And, if I can throw in a bonus three to five minutes of #mindright meditation, I am one happy camper!

Bodyflow is one of my favorite ways to get in a good stretch, yoga and meditation all in one 55 minute class. Not to mention, I also get in a little full body strength and core/back work which is just icing on the cake. It is truly the perfect blend of strength, stretching and relaxation. I'm fortunate that my YMCA has a variety of amazing instructors that all bring their own uniqueness to each class so while I attend the same class multiple times during the week, no two sessions are ever the same. I always get a great stretch and contrary to what I used to think, I also get a fantastic workout every time I show up to the mat.

There are so many great reasons to get your stretch on but in the event you are one of those stretch-for-five-seconds kind of people, here are a ten reasons that incorporating a good stretch into your workouts is beneficial for your overall health and workout performance!

  • Decreased stress
  • Reduced pain and stiffness
  • Improved health
  • Enhanced range of motion
  • Improved muscular function
  • Reduced risk of injury
  • Enhanced performance
  • Improved blood flow and circulation
  • Minimized wear and tear on joints
  • Improved quality of life

We also spend a lot of our daytime sitting whether that be in an office chair, in the car, at the dinner table, or on the couch. This causes our glutes to degenerate which is not a good thing. When our glute muscles are shutting down, we make up for that lack of strength by overworking other joints and muscles in the lower body which can cause unnecessary knee or lower back pain. If we get up throughout the day and make an effort to stretch the glutes and hip flexors to loosen up those tight muscles, we'll reduce further pain and injury down the road.

Similarly for our spinal column, sitting throughout the day can cause the muscles along our spine to tighten and shorten which can cause pain through the neck, shoulders and chest. Taking some time to do some rotational stretches through our spine through simple twists throughout the day can help alleviate some of these aches and pains we may have in our upper body.

It's also important that any flexibility training, stretching, yoga, etc doesn't cause pain. Stretching should take you to the point of resistance, perhaps slightly uncomfortable but should never be painful. If you feel pain in your flexibility work, don't stop completely but modify or adapt so you can still reap the benefits of stretching your body. Flexibility is 50% genetic so while you might not ever be gymnast-level flexible that doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. Stretching is definitely critical for the body and a key component to a well-balanced workout routine.

How were your workouts this week? Where you able to incorporate any of my tips from last week's workout with kids post into your routine? Last weekend, I pulled my three year old in his bike trailer and it turns out that's a pretty good leg burner! When I got on the bike for Tuesday's cycling workout my legs were feeling the effort of pulling a 36lb kid just a couple of days prior!! Sometimes unintentional workouts with the kiddos are the best kind!!

In any case, here's to an amazing summer weekend and a great round of workouts in the coming week!