In the training routine, stretching takes the back seat. The primary focus is exercising, isn’t it? If that’s the case, you might be making a big mistake.
- Decrease your risk of injury
- Improve your athletic performance
- Improve your joint range of motion
Stretching correctly and its benefits.
Some studies show that stretching helps. Some others show that stretching before/after exercise has very little or no benefit.
However, Stretching can help, for sure, improve flexibility. Better flexibility increases your joints range of movement.
Better flexibility will:
- Improve your performance in physical activities
- Help joints move through their full motion range
- Decrease your risk of injuries
- Enable your muscles to work most efficiently
- Stretching also helps increases blood flow to the muscle.
Follow these tips to keep a safe stretching routine:
- Never consider stretching as a warm up. Stretching cold muscles, you can hurt yourself. Before you stretch, warm up by walking, a light jog or low-intensity cycling for five to ten minutes. It’s better if you stretch after a workout and muscles are warm.
- It’s better if you skip stretching before an high-intensity activity, such as sprinting. Pre-event stretching may decrease performance, according to some studies. Stretching immediately before an activity weakens hamstring strength, was also shown.
- A “dynamic warm up” is advised. A dynamic warm-up includes movements that are similar to those in your activity at a low level, then speed and intensity should be increased as you warm up.
- Strive for symmetry. Everyone’s genetics for flexibility can differ. You shouldn’t aim to the flexibility of a dancer or gymnast, focus on having same flexibility side to side. The flexibility that is not equal on both sides may be a risk factor for injury.
- Focus on the main muscle groups. Concentrate your stretches on the primary muscles such as calves, hips, thighs, back, neck and shoulders. Make sure always to stretch both sides.
- Don’t bounce. Stretch in a smooth movement, without bouncing. You can injure your muscle if bouncing and promote tightness of muscles.
- Hold the stretch. Keep breathing normally, hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds; in some areas, holding for 60 seconds can be more beneficial.
- Never aim for pain. You can expect tension while stretching. Never pain. You’ve pushed too far if it hurts. Therefore you should back off to where you don’t feel pain, and hold the stretch.
- Stretches should be sport specific. For instance, stretch the muscle groups most used in your activity.
- Keep up with your stretching. Stretching can be time-consuming. But you can achieve the most benefits by stretching regularly, at least two to three times a week.
- You risk losing all potential benefits of stretching if skipping it. For example, if thanks to stretching you managed to increase your movements range, they may decrease if you stop.
- Bring movement into your stretching. Gentle movements, such as those in tai chi or yoga, can help you be more flexible in specific actions. These types of exercises can also contribute to reducing falls in seniors.
- Remember the “dynamic warmup:” If you’re going to perform a particular activity, such as a kick in martial arts or kicking a soccer ball, start out slowly and at low intensity to get your muscles used to it. Then speed up gradually.