Sydney's Stretching Challenge for August
emember your New Year's resolution? Yes? No? Fear not: Senior Instructor SYDNEY MILLER is sharing simple, healthy and habit-forming challenges every month of 2017. Each one is designed to help you reach long-term goals through mini-routines. Here’s what she’s got on tap for August.
Stretching is a little bit like the cherry on top of your workout’s sundae: You don’t think you need it, but you’d definitely notice if it wasn’t there. Linked to a whole bunch of health benefits, stretching is crucial for any workout — especially SoulCycle — for one major reason: If you love taking class, you’d love to keep doing it in the future, right? Stretching will help you get there.
Sydney teamed up with registered dietitian and Good Housekeeping Nutrition Director JACKIE LONDON to share some (science-backed!) savvy on why you should stretch it out for an extra 10 minutes per day this August to keep your joints and muscles in tip-top shape. Below, our top five reasons to Downward Dog ASAP.
It’s a good excuse just to get up. Like any good habit, stretching isn’t a one-time deal. You’ve got to do a little bit regularly to see results and stave off risk of injury. That’s why we’re committed to 10 minutes per day (an additional 10 after the post-class stretch!) to restore our bodies. There are immediate benefits, but it also often takes weeks to maximize flexibility’s full potential. As we’re all guilty of spending way too much time sitting, this challenge is the perfect excuse to get up from your seat and stretch it out.
You’ll maximize your workout. We all want to squeeze in a great workout and then carry on living our overbooked lives. But as with any long-term habit, working hard and recovering hard is an essential balance for long-term performance, energy, and consistency. Where does constant muscle-loading without recovery get you? Not far. It can lead to tight muscles, and matted, dehydrated fascia (the fancy word for the layer surrounding our muscles and muscle fibers, tendons, ligaments, joints, and bones). And, if you were following along for July’s hydration challenge, dehydration of any kind can make you tired, cause pain, and increase lethargy. No, thank you.
You’ll bounce back faster. When muscles are injured, they are weaker, making the joints, bones, tendons, and ligaments more susceptible to injury. This, in turn, only makes it more difficult to recover . The post-workout stretch and roll will help ward off soreness, and keep the muscles and fascia from tensing up when the body cools down. SMR (self-myofascial release) and stretching also help to improve circulation, by making way for more oxygen to flow to your muscles. That, along with increased parasympathetic nervous system activity, helps the body to recover faster. The quicker the recovery, the quicker you can get back up on that party bike. Foam rolling or SMR helps to spread out these root-like fibers, improving their ability to become rehydrated. This ultimately increases flexibility and reduces muscle soreness — all while optimizing your ability to work out more efficiently.
You’ll reduce your risk of injury. You probably know this one by now, but it bears repeating. When we go too long without a good stretch, our fascia morphs into something a little bit like a cobweb: twisted, kinked, and dehydrated. It'll affect your range of motion, leading to improper use of muscles. That cascade of issues puts extra stress on your ligaments, leading to injury and/or chronic pain.
It’ll help you zen out. Mind, body, soul, right? Stretching and foam rolling release tension in the fascia surrounding muscle tissues — a key component in relaxing your nervous system. Stretching is crucial for keeping that post-SoulCycle endorphin high, and offsetting the hormones that are released under stress (both physical and mental). Another added benefit: By tapping into your nervous system, stretching can also help with regular digestion — priming you to refuel properly after a workout.
Need some inspiration for poses? Stay tuned for Syndey's top five stretches, coming to SOUL Life next week.