One GL girl's story: "How I learned the importance of stretching"

Adding a workout to your daily routine is a great way to dominate your New Year's Resolution or even de-stress from a tough day. Exercising is fun and rewarding, but it's also important to make sure you're taking steps to keep yourself healthy and safe during your workout. Preventing an injury can be as simple as choosing the right workout shoes and adding easy stretches into your workout routine. 

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Life as a student-athlete is busy. I'm a junior in high school and I also run cross country, track and dance. I'm no stranger to a packed schedule. This past cross country season I never gave myself time to sit down and stretch before or after my runs, always rushing off to my next activity or home to start on homework. 

Towards the end of my season, I started having pain in my shins when I ran or danced. After a race that I ended up limping more than running, a trip to the doctor revealed that I had a possible stress fracture in my shin bone from my tight calves and general overuse. An MRI revealed that I did have a stress fracture and the doctors put me on crutches for four weeks. I was #devastated. 

Stretching regularly helps keep your muscles flexible and strong so that heavy exercise won't put too much stress on the muscle. Tight muscles are weaker and a recipe for all sorts of injuries. Taking five minutes to stretch is *totally* worth it to stay injury-free. Needless to say, as soon as I was off crutches and able to start running again I made sure to never skip out on a stretching routine again.

Besides just helping to prevent injury, stretching will overall improve your performance in your activity when your muscles are prepared to exercise. Better yet, if you've ever wanted to improve your flexibility and achieve your dream goal of doing the splits, the more you stretch the more flexible you'll become. Don't worry though, you don't have to be super flexible at first to get a good stretch in. 

Guided stretching videos are a great way to learn new stretches and most of them are only five to ten minutes long. Here are two quick and easy full-body stretch routines to get you ready to crush your next workout. 

Taking care of your body is the most important part of every workout you do. Taking just a few minutes for deep breaths and a good stretch is the *best* self-care and will help you out in the long run. 

Still feeling nervous about your flexibility? Check out these 5 yoga poses for the girl who isn't flexible

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by Abigail Adams | 2/8/2021