Happy Monday and Happy (belated) Mother’s Day to all of the fabulous moms out there. I don’t know how you ladies do it! I hope you all had a wonderful day. The weather was heavenly in Massachusetts, and as I predicted, it seemed we went right from winter to summer. It was in the 80s!
Crabapple tree finally blossoming about 2 weeks later than usual
We had a lovely brunch yesterday with my parents, grandmother, parents-in-law, brothers-in-law, and my husband’s Grammie. It was such a whirlwind that I didn’t snap any pictures, despite making a point to take out our camera. The only thing I captured was cooking the veggies for the frittata the night before:
Everything cooked right in the cast iron. I love one-pot/pan cooking!
Today I wanted to talk about stretching because I have found it to be so beneficial for recovering from my injuries as well as staying injury-free. Since I’ve already shared my favorite stretches for the lower body, I wanted to specifically talk about how long to hold stretches* for because I’ve found people tend to rush through them. So,
My answer? At least twenty seconds. How did I arrive at this number? That’s how long my physical therapist told me I was to hold my prescribed stretches and I’ve been doing it ever since. When I first started doing this, 20 seconds seemed like forever. Now I’ll often hold a stretch for longer to allow myself to go deeper into the stretch. And, not only do I hold them for 20 seconds, but I often do two sets!
To make the most of holding a stretch this long, use your breath to help ease you deeper into the stretch. Those that do yoga will know what I’m talking about, but for those who haven’t done it, use your inhale to relax your muscles while you’re in the stretch, and use your exhale to go deeper. Don’t force anything, because that can do more harm than good. Push it to where you feel it, but it shouldn’t be painful. I find it amazing how much deeper I can go as I relax the surrounding muscles and then use the exhale to stretch further.
Don’t forget to keep the rest of your muscles loose when you’re stretching as well. I sometimes find myself tensing up other areas of my body as I try to get a deeper stretch and have to constantly remind myself to keep it loose. As my girl Jillian likes to say when stretching the hammies,
That being said, for anyone who does her DVDs, I would caution that she does not hold stretches long enough. Much of the time she seems to hold them for less than 10 seconds each. I have found this to be more of a problem in her quick workout DVDs such as 30 Day Shred and Ripped in 30, probably to add to the speed of the workout. I always stop the DVD during the cool down and do my stretches. Don’t forget that you need to listen to your body and I’m guessing you’ll hear it asking for you to hold that stretch longer!
*Please note that I’m referring to static stretching. Static stretches are isolated stretches that you hold for a length of time and should be done at the end of a workout as opposed to dynamic stretching, or stretching that utilizes movement through the stretch and is done as part of a warm-up. A static stretch for shoulders, for example, would be when you pull the arm across the body to the opposite side, whereas a dynamic stretch for the shoulders would be arm circles.
Questions: How was your Mother’s Day? How’s the weather been lately where you are? Do you have a stretching routine? How long do you hold stretches for?