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by Kathryn Skeean

Hello again, CrossFit community! I am happy to be back chatting with you all on something that I personally love–stretching. 

I love a good stretch and can be caught stretching any time of day in pretty much any given location. Maybe part of that is being an ex-gymnast, but you do not need to be an athlete whose sport revolves around flexibility to enjoy it and reap the benefits.  Not only does it just feel generally great, but it has wonderful effects on your body, too. 

For this month’s blog, I turned to some of my personal knowledge in stretching as well as some research, but even better than that, I confided in CrossFit Liberate’s own stretch master, Dustin Valenta. I talked to Dustin about his personal point of view on the topic, and this is what he had to say: 

“I look at stretching as a necessary complement to any sort of strength training/conditioning work I do. I want my body (and my mind for that matter) to be proportionately strong and flexible, i.e. balanced. Too far in either direction and I am off/out of balance.” 

Like Dustin stated, it’s important to put time into flexibility. This can prevent injuries down the road and help avoid unnecessary pains. 

When I talked to Dustin about the sorts of stretches he likes to do, he said: 

“I have a lot of different stretches both active and passive that I incorporate into my day, but I always start and end the day with some sort of spinal articulation in all directions: lateral flexion, forward folding, twisting, and especially backward bending. I truly believe having a healthy, happy spine is key to leading a healthy, happy life. So I make a concerted effort to keep mine smiling.” 

While some of those words can sound intimidating, stretching can be as simple as you want to make it, though you should try to keep up with it as much as possible to see real results. Stretching is like strength training in that you do not magically see a change after a single session. 

In an article about the subject, Harvard Health listed a few guidelines to follow when performing a good stretch. They explained, “Hold a stretch for 30 seconds. Don’t bounce, which can cause injury. You’ll feel tension during a stretch, but you should not feel pain. If you do, there may be an injury or damage in the tissue. Stop stretching that muscle and talk to your doctor.” 

The most important thing here: listen to your body. Do what feels good and right, but don’t push it. It’s also important to remember that though I am a stretching enthusiast, I am not a doctor. Talking to a doctor or another trained professional to get more information that can be tailored to your specific needs. 

Happy stretching!