Stretching. We know we ought to do. We know that it promotes flexibility and muscle health, but let's be real: when it comes to post-workout, most of us hustle for the showers over the stretching mat in the gym.
So if we know we should stretch more often, what's stopping us from limbering up?
"The trend has been on nutrition and fitness, not recovery," Amit Malik, founder of NYC-based Stretch Relief, tells Organic Authority. "People tend to either focus on eating healthy and/or getting in a solid workout. Even the bootcamp, HIIT, and spin classes don't really give you enough time at the end of each class to properly stretch post-workout."
It was improper stretching that prompted Malik to open up Stretch Relief, a stretch and recovery studio that offers both one-on-one professional stretch sessions and group stretching classes.
"My wife and I spent the last few years in L.A. and I was training for a triathlon and realized I needed another solution to help me with my extremely tight calves that were hurting my run times," he says. "After trying to stretch on my own, trying a foam roller, trying massages, I had to seek out another solution, which was professional stretching. I found a place and got hooked."
Soon after Malik and his wife included stretching as part of their weekly routine whenever they scheduled a HIIT or spinning class, or even after a bi-coastal flight. Soon after they moved back to New York City to be closer to family, they realized something was missing from their new lifestyle: stretching.
After looking for a solution to his stretching needs, Malik decided to open up his own stretching studio.
"My goal was to educate people and create awareness about the importance of stretching. I wanted everyone to experience the amazing feeling we had from stretching and the impact it had on our well being."
According to Harvard Medical School, "stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy," which helps us maintain our range of motion. If we don't stretch on a regular basis we run the risk of our muscles becoming short and tight, which leads to injury, joint pain, and strain.
"At its core, stretching can be broken down into dynamic stretching and static stretching," says Malik. "One is catered to specificity of movement while the other focuses on overall change in range of motion in muscles and joints."
Dynamic stretching is usually done prior to exercise to prepare the joints for movement and muscles for optimal activation, while static stretching is best to do post-workout.
A common mistake that people do with stretching, says Malik, is stretching 'cold.'
"Not warming up the muscles first, whether it's through a quick run, bike or a quick hypervolt session, can impact the benefit you get from stretching," he says. "Not holding a stretch long enough is also a common mistake that people make."
Ideally, when it comes to static stretching, you should be holding a stretch for at least 30 to 60 seconds.
The Rise of Recovery
"We all know that we should be stretching, but now that there are services, like Stretch Relief, which are strictly dedicated to helping people incorporate stretching into their routines, people are more inclined to paying for this valuable service," says Malik. He thinks the accessibility of studios like his is the push that people need to incorporate stretching as part of their fitness and personal goals.
"Performing better, recovering faster and preventing injury is finally becoming a priority for people of all fitness levels."
Stretch Relief offers one-on-one personalized assisted stretching, both in the studio or in the home, as well as offers a group stretch classes including a yoga stretch class, foam rolling 101, and endurance stretch, and are suitable for all ages and athletic levels.
As for which stretches that Malik recommends incorporating into your stretching routine, he likes the following: cat cow, lunging hip flexor stretch, lying hamstring stretch, lying figure-four stretch, spinal twist, and child's pose.
"Fortunately, stretching is becoming a trend and thankfully it's getting more recognition."
Related on Organic Authority