Is Stretching Important?

By Adrianna McDonald

I’ve been in the fitness industry for over 10 years now and noticed that very little amount of people do any stretching. It seems like they want to get in and out of the gym as fast as possible. Lately stretching has been neglected and is often seen as unnecessary part of a training routine and more so as a waste of time.

We seem to have forgotten how many benefits we actually can get from stretching for both body and the mind. Here are a few:


1. Improves flexibility

Flexibility is needed to be able to work through the full range of motion. If your muscles are tight it means that they are also shortened and that limits their full range. Stretching will reduce the tension in the muscles allowing you to move easier and prevent an injury. Your movement will stay fluid and joints pain-free (which is very important as we age to be able to stay active).

2. Improves circulation

Stretching increases blood flow throughout the body, bringing oxygen to your muscles and brain which increases energy and focus. It also has benefits in improving your mood (think yoga)

3. Good for posture, aches, pains

If you work in the office and sit at a desk most of the day your posture will suffer. The common back ache is a common result of the haunched back which puts pressure on nerves limiting blood flow and creates muscular imbalances. Stretching lengthens your muscles, reduces tension, increases circulation and corrects muscular imbalances.


4. Mental relaxation

If you ever attended a yoga class or tried meditation you would notice how tranquil you’ve become. Stretching combined with breathing techniques has a similar effect. Connecting your mind and body in the following manner can be very calming thanks to the increased blood flow to the muscles and the brain. You feel physically and mentally relaxed and de-stressed.
5. Helps with exercise

Stretching before a workout gets blood flowing to your muscles and releases synovial fluid which prevents bones from rubbing against each other. This will make all your movements easier and smoother. So called dynamic stretches will actively lengthen your muscles, and slowly warm them up as well as prepare the joints and tendons for the work you’re about to do. Post workout you should do static stretching or foam rolling to cool down the muscles and prevent injury.

Sitting for long periods is a killer for the body, especially the hips, legs and spine. It is crucial to mobilize our hips and spine daily and it takes only a few minutes. Stretching helps with relieving tension and helps to prevent the pain and injury that chronic sitting can lead to.


If you can’t seem to find the time pre or post workout (or you don’t workout at all!) do some stretching right before you go to bed, and try to take some time out and do a few moves in your office chair or while in the bathroom (idea taken from one of my clients 😉).
Your body will appreciate it and thank you for it!

Stretching will do wonders for your body and mind!

Fitness, lifestyle

No Pain, No Gain? Tackling Muscle Soreness & Injury

Anyone who has exercised a single time in their lives is familiar with the muscle ache that comes the day after an intense workout.

Even though I have been working out for years and started doing some serious weight-lifting over a year ago, I still do get sore every time my workout intensity/routine/weight changes (yes, it happens to the best of us :p). 

Why does it happen?

So why do we get sore? Putting your muscles under tension during exercise causes tiny cuts in muscle fibers which then prompt the body to rebuild those muscles, making them bigger & stronger.  Soreness post-workout is a natural sign that your muscles are benefitting from your hard work. It is still debatable whether this is due to the build up of toxins & lactic acid in the muscles which can cause inflammation, knots & stiffness in the affected area. Other possible causes are connective tissue damage, muscle spasms & realease of enzymes.

Soreness vs. Injury

Muscle ache or delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) usually starts 12 to 24 hours post workout and can last 3 to 5 days. Here’s how I usually feel:

  • Day of workout – tired, beginning to feel the muscles tighten
  • Day 1 post-workout – wake up with mild to severe muscle ache
  • Day 2 post-workout – wake up & struggle to get out of bed 😀 (basically very painful DOMS)
  • Day 3 post-workout – the pain starts to subside and the affected area can return to normal full range of motion
  • Day 4 post-workout – back to normal in most cases

On the other hand, if you experience sharp pain, either during workout, with certain everyday movements or constantly, you may have injured yourself. Swelling that does not go down for more than 10 days, especially around joints, is another symptom you should be weary of. 

What can you do

There are a number of ways you can help your body recover. First and foremost do make sure you are not injured, keeping in mind that DOMS can be very painful too but is not a health risk. Then have a look at the list below, these are just a few tips from my experience:

  • In the first 24 hours post-workout make sure to rest & use ice if there is any mild swelling;
  • Use heat to relieve tension and stiffness in the days following the workout – tiger balm creams & patches, hot baths and hot water bottles can be of great help;
  • Make sure to stretch & foam roll prior to your next workout, you can also use a small ball (e.g. Tennis ball) to dig deeper around the affected area;
  • Don’t stop exercising, but also don’t work out the part which is aching – focus on other muscles instead;
  • Certain nutrients & supplements can help too: magnesium is well known for reducing muscle ache, whereas ginger & turmeric can help reduce inflammation.

Finally, remember that the more you workout the more your body gets used to the stress & tensions of exercise and the less pain you will experience in the days after your workout.