In almost every activity or sport, stretching has always been the typical way to “warm up” the body and get it ready for action. However, you do not have to be an elite athlete to reap the rewards. Stretching, when done properly is the most effective way to fully connect your mind and body through your breath, and should be incorporated into every fitness program. The Importance Of Stretching
Why stretching is important
Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage.
For example, sitting in a chair all day results in tight hamstrings in the back of the thigh. That can make it harder to extend your leg or straighten your knee all the way, which inhibits walking. Likewise, when tight muscles are suddenly called on for a strenuous activity that stretches them, such as playing tennis, they may become damaged from suddenly being stretched. Injured muscles may not be strong enough to support the joints, which can lead to joint injury.
Regular stretching keeps muscles long, lean, and flexible, and this means that exertion “won’t put too much force on the muscle itself,” says Nolan. Healthy muscles also help a person with balance problems to avoid falls. The Importance Of Stretching
Benefits Of Stretching:
- Reduce muscle and joint tensions to help make the body more relaxed.
- Help’s coordination and range of motion by allowing for freer movement.
- Prevent injuries such as muscle strains, sprains, and pulls.
- Makes strenuous activity easier by preparing the muscles for activity.
- Develop body awareness and focus, as you become in-touch with your muscles.
- Promote circulation by sending oxygen and blood to your muscles.
- Speeds the healing process of injured or over trained muscles.
- Fascial Stretching can actually build muscle and make you stronger.
- Best of all, it clears your mind and makes you feel good!
Where to start
With a body full of muscles, the idea of daily stretching may seem overwhelming. But you don’t have to stretch every muscle you have. “The areas critical for mobility are in your lower extremities: your calves, your hamstrings, your hip flexors in the pelvis and quadriceps in the front of the thigh.” Stretching your shoulders, neck, and lower back is also beneficial. Aim for a program of daily stretches or at least three or four times per week.
Find a physical therapist who can assess your muscle strength and tailor a stretching program to fit your needs. The Importance Of Stretching
HOW TO STRETCH:
- Hold each stretch in one position for about 30 seconds without bouncing.
- Breath slow and deep as you stretch and hold.
- Clear your mind and focus on the muscles being stretched, visualize them letting go and relaxing throughout the entire stretch.
- Relax the entire body; never go past the point of serious discomfort or pain.
- Stretch the entire body, especially the shoulders, hips, and legs daily.
- Stretching after the body is warmed up will produce better results… be sure to stretch after every cardio and weight training session.
- Use stretching as the “cool down” phase of your workout.
- Stretch between sets while weight training to help the targeted muscle recover faster and grow bigger.
Having a partner assist you while you focus on letting go and breathing will produce tremendous results. Your partner should be familiar with the stretches and your body. Communication is a must when doing partner stretching & would highly recommend a trained professional do this with you. There are many books and videos to get you started. The Importance Of Stretching