By: Jenifer Newman, exhale Master Teacher Trainer + former professional ballet dancer
Before I came to exhale, I was formally educated in Russian ballet technique and had a fulfilling career as a professional ballet dancer. This technique is founded in strength, disciple, passion, flexibility, and a deep understanding of the importance of position, alignment and movement.
I first came to exhale in 2005, and to my astonishment, one of the key elements of the Core Fusion Barre program was Position, Alignment, and Movement. In that order. Perfect. I knew I was in the right place. I learned that through position, alignment and movement in a Barre class, one could truly maintain a healthy and supple body for a lifetime.
…And then there’s that deep passion I feel for stretching. That little itch of wanting to stretch more and more. Over the past 12 years teaching barre, I found a beautiful intertwining fusion between ballet, stretching, and Core Fusion Barre technique. The beauty in this helped me to evolve into a mindful and deeply motivating barre teacher for exhale — and stretching is a key part of why exhale classes are some of the most effective programs out there.
Why is it important to stretch during and after a workout?
When you work out, lactic acid builds up in your muscles. This often leads to muscle soreness and fatigue. Stretching after a workout helps to reduce muscle fatigue. When you stretch after a workout, your muscles are warm and you benefit from increased blood circulation, and supercharge your recovery with a host of key benefits:
- Fortifies posture – Stretching helps ensure correct posture by lengthening tight muscles that pull areas of the body away from their intended position and keeping your muscles loose. Stretching the muscles of the lower back, chest and shoulders can help keep the spine in better alignment and improve overall posture by relieving aches and pains. With reduced pain, there is a reduced desire to hunch or slouch.
- Enables flexibility – The most established and obvious benefit of stretching is improving flexibility and range of motion. An effective flexibility training program can improve your physical performance and help reduce your risk of injury. By improving your range of motion, your body requires less energy to make the same movements and you also will have more flexible joints thus lessening the likelihood of injuries acquired during workouts or during daily activities.
- Increases stamina – Stretching loosens your muscles and tendons which relieves muscle fatigue and increases blood flow. The longer you exercise the more energy you be burn, typically causing one to grow fatigued. With stretching, you can delay the onset of muscle fatigue by ensuring oxygen is efficiently flowing through your blood, thereby increasing your endurance.
- Decreases risk of injury – Stretching helps to supply a greater nutrient supply to muscles, thereby reducing muscle soreness and helping to speed recovery from muscle and joint injuries.
- Improves energy levels – Sometimes you may have trouble staying awake during your long, dragging day. Muscles tighten when we get tired and that makes us feel even more lethargic. A stretch class will help you to quickly and efficiently revitalize your energy levels.
- Promotes circulation – it increases blood flow to the muscles. Not only will this help reduce post-workout soreness and shorten recovery time, but it will improve overall health. Greater blood circulation helps promote cell growth and organ function. The heart rate will also lower since it doesn’t have to work as hard and blood pressure will become more even and consistent.
- Improves athletic performance – If your muscles are already contracted because you haven’t stretched, then they will be less effective during exercise. Regular stretching will relax all of your muscles and therefore enable them to be more available during exercise.
- Reduces soreness – Stretching before and after a workout gives your muscles time to relax. Increases in blood flow increase nutrient supply to the muscles and relieve soreness in the muscles after a workout.
Don’t skimp on your stretching — in Core Fusion class and out. And if you’re near Santa Monica, catch Jenifer’s Core Fusion Barre and her Full Body Stretch classes weekly.