We all love a good stretch. It releases the tension in your muscles and joints and is a quick way to reinvigorate the body. As it so happens, classes dedicated to stretching have started to carve out their own niche in the fitness industry. However, is there a flip side to this new fad?
- Benefits of stretching
Stretching classes typically have a certified coach who will provide hands-on assistance to help you stretch. Stretching in passive, static and dynamic ways can help you identify and minimise pain in problem areas. It is also a good form of recovery after intense workouts to help you improve your overall athletic performance. Having a class that specifically targets stretching allows you to completely release your tensions and avoid contractions. This can, in turn, allow you to achieve a deeper stretch than you would with more traditional flexibility classes like yoga.
- Is the price worth it?
If you want a deeper and more thorough stretch that is unique to assisted stretching, go for it. If the price tag is a tad too much for pure stretching, using the money for a personal trainer, massage, rehabilitation, and even physical therapy may be deemed as more worthwhile. At best, your fitness regimen benefits from an added layer. If you truly value flexibility, then regular classes might be worth considering. It is worth noting however, that there is no significant difference between assisted and solo stretching as far as gains in flexibility are concerned.
- Consistent effort beyond the class
Another point to note is that stretching should not be done only in weekly classes to be effective. To overcome the underlying causes of stiffness, regular stretches are required. It takes self-discipline to build a healthy stretching habit outside of your classes. Adopt simple stretches throughout the day when you are working in front of your laptop, walking to grab a coffee, or when you are at home watching TV.
- Not a workout
While assisted stretching can feel intense in its own way, it’s not challenging enough to qualify as a proper “workout”. That is, you’re not going to get stronger, faster or leaner just by having a steady diet of stretching classes. At its core, these classes function more as a recovery modality, which would complement regular strength and endurance training sessions very well. Conversely, if you start treating your stretching sessions with same kind of intensity as you do with HIIT workouts, you run a very real risk of injuring yourself.
Stretching classes are a good addition to your fitness routine, although definitely not mandatory. If you’re not exactly itching to spend the extra cash and do not see the need to improve on your flexibility extensively, feel free to focus your efforts on other aspects of fitness. There’s always stretching at home on your days off!