Are you doing regular stretches?
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.
Different Types of Stretching
We all know, or at least have heard, about the importance of stretching. Whether it is to improve your athletic performance, for general health and wellness, or to relieve pain and tension, stretching can be the answer. The real question is what kind of stretching should we be doing to get the best results. When it comes to stretching, there are three main techniques: static, dynamic, and ballistic stretching.
Static stretching is what typically comes to mind when talking about stretching. It is a form of active or passive stretching in which you hold a position for about 30-60 seconds, allowing the muscles and their connective tissues, fascia, to lengthen.
Dynamic stretching is a form of active stretching that is performed by engaging the desired muscle’s antagonist through the joint’s range of motion, only holding the stretch for 2-3 seconds. Because the stretch is only held briefly, the muscle is able to increase in length without a reduction in muscle tension or muscle excitability. By preventing the reduction in muscle tension, an individual is able to improve their range of motion without a loss in force production.
Ballistic stretching is the most controversial form of stretching. Unlike dynamic stretching, ballistic stretching utilizes muscle activation through quick, jerky movements. This inhibits the body’s stretch reflex and increases the muscle’s range of motion through the force created by the bouncing.
Benefits of Stretching
There are many benefits to regular stretching. Not only can stretching help increase your flexibility, which is an important factor of fitness, but it can also improve your posture, reduce stress and body aches, and more.
1. Increases your flexibility
Regular stretching can help increase your flexibility, which is crucial for your overall health. Not only can improved flexibility help you to perform everyday activities with relative ease, but it can also help delay the reduced mobility that can come with aging.
2. Increases your range of motion
Being able to move a joint through its full range of motion gives you more freedom of movement. Stretching on a regular basis can help increase your range of motion.
3. Improves your performance in physical activities
Performing dynamic stretches prior to physical activities has been shown to help prepare your muscles.
4. Increases blood flow to your muscles
Performing stretches on a regular basis may improve your circulation.
5. Improves your posture
Muscle imbalances are common and can lead to poor posture.
6. Helps to heal and prevent back pain
Tight muscles can lead to a decrease in your range of motion. When this happens, you increase the likelihood of straining the muscles in your back. Stretching can help heal an existing back injury by stretching the muscles.A regular stretching routine can also help prevent future back pain by strengthening your back muscles and reducing your risk for muscle strain.
7. Is great for stress relief
When you’re experiencing stress, there’s a good chance your muscles are tense. That’s because your muscles tend to tighten up in response to physical and emotional stress. Focus on areas of your body where you tend to hold your stress, such as your neck, shoulders, and upper back.
8. Can calm your mind
Participating in a regular stretching program not only helps increase your flexibility, but it can also calm your mind. While you stretch, focus on mindfulness and meditation exercises, which give your mind a mental break.
9. Helps decrease tension headaches
Tension and stress headaches can interfere with your daily life. In addition to a proper diet, adequate hydration, and plenty of rest, stretching may help reduce the tension you feel from headaches.
How to Stretch Safely
With all the other exercises, proper technique is crucial when doing stretches! Stretching is incredibly important for your body, however, it does not come without some risk.
Here are our favourite ways to ensure you stretch safely!
-Warm up your muscles before starting a stretching routine. Your muscles need to warm up before most activities.
-Ensure that you only stretch to the point of mild discomfort and use breathing to gain further depth.
– Spending 20-30 minute daily to stretch will be a game change for a lot of things!
-Take deep breaths using your nose for inhalation and mouth for exhalation when possible.
Regular stretching will impact your body, emotions, and life. Don’t underestimate this simple and powerful tool of stretching, you can use each day!
If you’d like some help putting together a stretching routine, or want to improve your muscle flexibility, reach – our team is here to help!
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