"Stretching For Strength"

Did you know that stretching your muscles after you've worked them can actually make you stronger and leaner than if you skip mobility at the end of a workout? Muscles shorten when you activate them in more challenging and heavier lifts and if they stay bunched up, they tend to build less new muscle fiber, and what you do build can appear more bulky, and can keep your body restricted and tight. Trust me, when you're not even 5'2 you want to take advantage of all the muscle lengthening you can get. 

It didn't take long after I became serious about lifting to see that I needed to counteract the thickness I was building in the belly of the muscle with lengthening all the way through the muscle attachments. A weekly yoga practice turned into 2 (or more), and stretching became mandatory at the end of EVERY workout- for the first time in my life my legs looked strong AND LONG. 

When it comes to our workouts most people focus on their strength and intensity. Even in yoga we work toward strong poses. We all want to work hard, work up a sweat and get the most out of the least time in the gym. The balance is making sure we save time to let the body and fascia (connective tissue around every muscle) which gets heated during the hard work, stretch and cool down and reset into (hopefully) a new, more aligned and elongated shape. Often we do a couple of stretches we like, then out the door and headed home before the fascia has cooled. If you jet from the gym without a stretch and then hop in the car you mold into a shortened, seated position instead of a long, lean one.   So spend a little extra time in savasana and enjoy a stress free stretch - you earned it, because "I hate being lean" said nobody EVER. Namaste