Stretching is a key component during exercise or training sessions, yet most people often neglect it. Most of the time, they are too lazy or tired to stretch, or breeze through each stretch without fully doing it. Stretching takes only around ten minutes, and while it might seem like a insignificant addition to your workout, it has plenty of benefits for the body. So whether you’re going to the gym, playing tennis outdoors or simply follow dance routines on television - you need to stretch in order to increase your flexibility, which in turn, lessens your chances of getting injured.
Why Stretch When Exercising?
Stretching can be used to “warm up” and “cool down”. Stretching before an exercise allows you to loosen your muscles and prepare for routines which you will have to go through while exercising. As a warm up, it also helps increase body temperature, blood flow and oxygen supply to your muscles, readying your body for the actual exercise. Aside from preparing your muscle and joints, it also helps prepare your mind and allows it to anticipate the coming physical exercise.
When used as a cool down technique, stretching prevents waste products like lactic acid from building up in your muscles. It also prevents the pooling of blood in your limbs. Stretching after a strenuous workout also loosens and relaxes the muscles, stopping it from becoming too tight or stiff. Stretching does not only increase flexibility and reduce the chances of injury; it also helps the muscles repair from injuries. Stretching allows injured or stressed muscles to slowly and safely heal while strengthening it as well. In fact, stretching is a form of therapy used by doctors and physical therapists for patients recovering from muscle injuries.
Stretching For Everyday
Stretching is not only important for exercise routines. It is also important for everyday wellness. Some multiple benefits of stretching include:
- Decrease of pain and soreness of the muscles
- Improvement of motion
- Improvement of posture
- Improvement of circulation
- Increase of relaxation
- Decrease of muscle tension
- Improvement of nerve and muscle connection
Stretching unblocks twisted nerves, it allows the nerve and the muscle to better connect, it helps to correctly position muscle fibers and it is a great strength builder.
Some Tips While Stretching
- Stretching is a common form of warm – up or cool – down, yet plenty of people still do it wrong. Here are some tips on proper stretching:
- Balance your stretches by stretching both sides of the muscles evenly. If you stretch one hamstring for ten seconds, then stretch the opposite side for the same time
- Avoid overstretching. Remember that you are not in a contest, so only stretch up to the point of tension or pull - not before you start to feel any pain
- Stretch slowly. Take your time while stretching. Stretch and Hold each muscle at least fifteen seconds before slowly releasing
- Do not bounce or make jerky movements. Bouncing pushes the muscles which may cause injury. Stretches should not be done in bouncy movements but should always be smooth and slow
- Breathe while exercising. This allows enough oxygen to circulate through your body
So, the next time you ask yourself if you really need to stretch – you do. Whether you’re beginning an exercise routine or ending it, or whether you’re simply sitting on your office chair for the whole day, the same rule applies. Get up and stretch. Your body will thank you for it.