The Importance of Stretching
A good, long stretch after sitting at a desk all day can be super satisfying, but you do know how important it is to actually stretch regularly?
You can stretch anytime, anywhere, but doing it correctly is of paramount importance. Let’s start with the most common types of stretching, namely static and dynamic stretching.
Static stretches involve holding a stretch in a comfortable position for a period of time, typically between 10 and 30 seconds. This form of stretching is most beneficial after you exercise and can reduce your risk of injuries.
Dynamic stretches are active movements that cause your muscles to stretch, but the stretch is not held in the end position. These stretches are usually done before exercise to get your muscles ready for movement and prepare your muscles for the exercises to come.
It is important to note that stretching should not be used to warm up. Before exercise, your muscles are cold and stretching cold muscles can cause damage, so start your workout with some cardio like a brisk walk, a light jog or a low intensity activity for 5 to 10 minutes to warm up your muscles. You can then proceed to a dynamic stretch if necessary, but avoid stretching before any intense activity like sprinting. Some research suggests that stretching the muscles before intense running or swimming can actually weaken the muscles. Rather save the stretch for afterwards.
When you do stretch, take note of these important tips:
Everyone’s flexibility abilities are different so focus on having equal flexibility side to side and focus on your major muscle groups like your thighs, calves, hips, lower back, neck and shoulders. Stretch the muscles you use the most during your day.
Stretch with smooth, fluid movements and avoid bouncing. Bouncing a muscle can cause an injury and make the muscle tighter.
Hold your stretches and remember to breathe. Recognise the difference between tension and pain. Pain is not the goal so if it hurts, you are pushing too hard. Release to the point the pain dissipates and then hold the stretch in that position. Make sure you are careful when stretching a previous strain or injury, you might cause more damage.
Regular stretching can increase your flexibility which is crucial to your overall health and will assist you with performing everyday tasks. It also improves blood flow to your muscles, improves your posture, relieves tension headaches and can alleviate stress whilst calming your mind.
The benefits to stretching are endless, regardless of where you find yourself in your fitness journey, so incorporate some stretching into your routine and keep at it. Whilst this can be time consuming, you will only see the benefits of the exercise by being consistent.
Body20 offers Relax20 sessions which can be worked into your fitness programme. These sessions incorporate light stretching exercises that work in conjunction with EMS technology to further boost the benefits of stretching unaided.
Book a free demo via our website to experience it for yourself, you owe it to your body and your mind.