Stretching (also known as building flexibility and mobility) is an incredibly important element of overall fitness that is often overlooked by teens. Regular stretching decreases muscle tension, reduces pain and improves range of motion. When activities like sitting in class all day decrease your flexibility, stretching matters a lot.

The most important message about stretching is to create a consistent routine. Whether you attend yoga class with a friend, stretch while hanging out with your teammates or even stretch at night while watching your favourite show, try to aim for a minimum of 15 minutes per day.

But what kind of stretches should you do?

There are two major categories of stretches: static and dynamic. Static is the name for traditional stretches where you put a muscle on stretch and hold it for a period of time. Dynamic activation is the name for any motion that extends your muscles while moving, like swinging your legs or arms before a workout.

Before you exercise, dynamic activation is the preferred approach. Dynamic activation causes signals to be sent from your brain to your muscles and increases range of motion, blood flow and muscle temperature.

Static stretching is best done when you are cooling down or when you're just stretching to relax. It helps to align your muscle fibres and reduces tension. So do this type of stretching after exercise or after a long day to relax your muscles and nerves and to de-stress.

If you are new to stretching, make sure you get some expert advice so that you have good form and understand the basic guidelines. For example, you should never bounce during a static stretch and should hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds. Also, make sure you warm up prior to dynamic stretching. See the cardio warm-up for examples of dynamic stretches you can do before your workout and this stretching routine for static stretches you should do post-workout.

Today's POWER-UP: Try Yoga

Of course, no conversation about mobility and flexibility is complete without a comment about yoga. From stress reduction to various forms of emotional release, yoga has side effects that will improve your fitness and help you live the vital and healthy life you crave.

If you have never tried yoga, see if you can fit in a class somewhere to experience what it is all about. The physical benefits of yoga techniques are immense because they promote improved flexibility and have been tested during a three-thousand- year process of trial and error.

Anyone will benefit from attending yoga classes – even if it can only happen once a week. I prefer flow Ashtanga yoga classes but try a few out and see what works for you.