Why You Need To Stretch
Do you have tunnel vision when exercising, do your workout, and rush home? There may be a reason for you to slow down and focus on stretching pre and post-workout. The importance of stretching is often overlooked. Here is why you need to stretch and how to do it.
What does stretching do to your body?
Having flexibility is an essential component of health and fitness. The benefits of stretching can improve your range of motion, performance, reduce post-exercise soreness, and helps you move with less effort. In addition, maintaining flexibility helps improve balance and alignment. There are many different methods behind stretching, and here are some to consider for your stretching routines.
What are the 5 types of stretching?
Ballistic stretching uses repetitive bouncing movements. However, this is the least recommended for everyday users because it involves stretching a muscle beyond its comfort level. It’s generally used by ballet dancers, gymnasts, and martial artists who need extreme flexibility for their sport.
Dynamic stretching mimics a specific sport in an exaggerated and controlled way. This form of stretching is usually done before exercise, practice, or a sports event.
Static stretching consists of passively extending a muscle to mild discomfort and holding it. It is recommended to hold the position between 10 and 90 seconds.
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation uses a partner and involves the contraction and relaxation of muscles. Your partner holds your limb in a position of mild discomfort, and you contract the muscle for 10 seconds, then relax. The muscle is then stretched deeper, and the process continues. PNF is necessary to provide a greater range of motion and motivation. In addition, PNF can be done with a tool like a strap or a band.
Myofascial release uses a foam roller to relieve tension and improve flexibility in the muscle tissues. A tool like a foam roller is used to do small continuous movements with pressure on the muscle for about 2-6 seconds. You can use other tools like a ball or massage gun.
Tips for Stretching
Warm-up, but don’t stretch statically. When muscles are cold, it can cause injury. However, warming up or dynamic stretching is best. Take a short walk or do movements that mimic the activity you are about to do for 5-10 minutes before exercise.
Stretching after a workout can reduce delayed onset muscle soreness. Benefits are seen over time due to the increased range of motion to perform exercises to their full potential. In addition, post-workout stretching helps to bring your energy levels back.
Do Not Overstretch
Even though stretching improves range of motion, overstretching can cause muscle weakness. Think of a rubber band. It’s tight when you first get it, and as you continuously work it, it never returns to its original form. Overstretching may compromise joint integrity.
In some sports, over flexibility is detrimental, like running. A study found that runners who had less flexibility ran more efficiently. Focus on tight muscles: Weight training puts stress on your joints and muscles, becoming tight. Pay attention to these areas and stretch to increase blood flow there. This is where myofascial release is most beneficial for strength training and running.
Overall, warming up before exercise and cooling down through static stretching is helpful. It is essential to look at your activity and apply these techniques to your type of exercise routine. Because flexibility is one of the five components of fitness, it is vital to make it a part of your routine. Don’t forget to perform stretching 2-3 days a week for at least 10 minutes a day for long-term benefits.