Why you should not miss stretching

bodybuilding, improve performance, injury prevention, muscle gain, post workout, recovery, Sports -

Why you should not miss stretching

In the fitness industry almost every athlete or sports person stretches. Stretching can offer many benefits to your overall fitness and wellbeing and can improve flexibility, prevent injury and reduce muscle soreness. Although mostly though of as only being performed by runners and gymnasts, stretching offers many health benefits that everyone can benefit from. The benefits don’t just end at sports as engaging in stretches daily can help you during normal life, for example stretching before lifting something heavy can significantly reduce your risk of injury.

 

When to stretch

The big question for many people is, when is it best to do stretches? Some people do them before a workout and others after and this can be confusing to beginners. The real answer is that it depends on what you are trying to achieve from your stretch. For example, stretching before a workout won’t reduce your injury risk as much as warming your muscle up. Although in high school you may have been taught to stretch before a workout, recent studies suggest otherwise. Stretching a cold muscle can lead to an injury as it is not warm and pliable.  So, if you wanted to stretch before a workout make sure you do a warmup beforehand.

Stretching after a workout offers many benefits as your muscles are already warmed up and pliable. Stretching after a workout can improve circulation and increase your flexibility. This is because after stretching your constricted and contracted muscles are able to be released back to their more comfortable state. Stretching can also decrease the soreness that you feel after a workout. This is due to lactic acid that is produced after a workout being pushed out of muscles when stretching. When stretching its best to do it post workout rather than before you start exercising.

 

Improved range of motion

One great benefit of stretching is that it can improve your range of motion along with flexibility. The improved flexibility is due to muscles being stretched back to there normal state and not being constricted. This means that they can be used to their full potential. This will also improve your range of motion, making stretching a good tool to improve your performance and form during a workout. For example, if you wanted to improve your form on bench press the your could try doing chest and triceps stretches more frequently, this will increase your range of motion which improves form and makes you get the most from your workouts.

There is also your joints that can benefit from stretching. Having good joints that are well lubricated and are loose can be a big benefit when it comes to improved flexibility and range of motion. Good strong joints will also put you at a decreased risk of injury. This can also benefit people with arthritis as stretching lubricates your joints and can be used as therapy to increase there range of motion.

 

Improved circulation

Stretching has also been observed to improve circulation, meaning your blood flow is increased throughout your body. Having an improved circulation offers many benefits like improved recovery as your muscles get all the essential nutrients, they need to repair themselves after a workout. This will also decrease your chances of injury as your muscles are fully recovered before your start your next workout. As a result you will have improved performance and will be seeing more benefits from your workouts.

There are also many other health benefits of having improved blood flow. One of these benefits is that you will maintain a health flow of oxygen to your muscles. You will also be able to fight off diseases and sickness quicker, as white blood cells and other disease fighting cells can be transported around the blood stream quicker. Boor blood circulation can put you at risk of blood clots, tiredness, and many more other health issues.

 

Stretching techniques

There are several different stretching techniques. These include:

Dynamic stretching – This is when the stretch involves movement and engages your muscles to do the stretch. These can be used to warm up as they promote blood flow to muscles and lubricate joints.  Examples can include high kicks and lunges.

Static stretching – This form of stretching is when you hold a position for a period of time. This can improve flexibility and help relive muscle tightness before or after an activity. Examples can include hamstring stretches and back stretches.

Ballistic stretching – This form of stretching uses bouncing movements to push your body beyond its range of motion. An example can include when trying to touch your toes bounce towards the end just to get that little extra stretch. These are popular among athletes but can cause injury if pushed too far.

PNF stretching – PNF stretching is short for proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching and is a more advanced form of stretching. This involves both stretching and contracting the muscle group you are targeting. This can also promote muscle growth and examples of PNF stretching include leg stretches than involve applying tension to your hamstring and then contracting.

Passive stretching – This type of stretching is when you stay in one position for a set time. While in this position a partner, weight or exercising accessory will apply an external force intensifying your stretch. This helps your body push itself deep into a stretch, so you are really loosening your muscles. An example of a passive stretch can include holding your leg behind your body with your hand, you can then use your hand to stretch your leg further by pulling it towards your body.

Active stretching – This involves contracting the muscle group that is the opposite of what you are stretching. This requires no external force and is great for improving flexibility and stretching out your muscles. An example of an active stretch can include stretching your bicep by contracting your triceps. The contraction of the other muscle pulls your stretch to its full potential.

 

In conclusion, stretching is something that should not be forgotten. There are many benefits to doing stretches and missing them can have detrimental side effects like increased risk of injury and decreased blood flow throughout your body. You don’t have to do a sport or be an athlete to reap the benefits of stretching, these benefits will assist you in daily life and can increase the length and quality of life.