The Reasons Why Stretching is so Important
To put it simply, it helps you maintain and increase flexibility whilst helping reduce pain by using a range of movements in your joints and muscles. Some simple, yet effective moves can prepare your body for exercise or just to start the day whilst improving your balance to prevent falls, and even help relieve arthritis, mild back and joint aches.
If you don’t Stretch your muscles and connective tissue they can modify and actually shorten. When you Stretch a muscle, fibres and connective tissue elongate allowing the Stretched muscles to become longer. It helps reduce injuries like ligament tears, muscle tears, strains and sprains. It’s also worth noting, especially with an ‘ageing’ population, that the ‘Synovial fluid’ which basically ‘lubricates’ our joints, reducing friction and wear & tear of joints, could and will deteriorate, causing damage over time. Ideally stretch before martial arts.
OK, so when should we Stretch?
Getting motivated, especially in the winter mornings, isn’t always easy. So, how does everyday sound? and not just when we are about to start, or finish an exercise program or an intensive training session. Warming up your muscles first is essential!! gentle aerobic movements for a few minutes, will prepare the muscles, making them Stretch more easily. You will benefit so much more if you practice Stretching routines everyday.
The sooner the better when we wake up is a great time to prepare your body for the day ahead, or just before starting to exercise, dramatically improving blood circulation, which can minimise injury to muscles and joints. It also increases blood flow to the brain, increasing concentration and sharpens senses which is a great wake up boost for mental preparation.Getting motivated, especially in the winter mornings, isn’t always easy.
So, how does everyday sound? and not just when we are about to start, or finish an exercise program or an intensive training session. Warming up your muscles first is essential!! gentle aerobic movements for a few minutes, will prepare the muscles, making them Stretch more easily. You will benefit so much more if you practice Stretching routines everyday. You should also stretch the majority muscles before cycling, her are some cycling tips for beginners lose weight.
How to Stretch Safely and Correctly
I tend to start with the head, neck, shoulders and work down the body, so as not to forget any major part. Static (without movement) Stretch only to the point of mild tension, never to the point of pain. Holding a Stretch for between 20 and 30 seconds is considered adequate, or (10 – 15 twice) allowing the muscles to lengthen. Don’t ‘Bounce’ or ‘Rock’ the movement. Dynamic (with movement)
An excellent way to warm up for a sporting event or athletic activity. Swinging or Bouncing is necessary to extend your range of Motion and Flexibility. Passive or Relaxed Stretching. Involves some sort of assistance, to help you to achieve the stretch, a Towel, a Stretch Band, another person or apparatus.
Good posture is essential whether you’re sitting, standing or moving. Good form translates to better gains in flexibility and less likelihood of injury when stretching tight muscles. Breathe comfortably while stretching, don’t hold your breath while you are holding a stretch, your muscles need oxygenated blood. Move through the stretches slowly and gently. Listen to your body, meaning – take it slow, flexibility will happen, yet everyone has their own pace, don’t be tempted to rush, otherwise you are susceptible to injury.
Where is a suitable place to Stretch?
Anywhere really? No excuses! Somewhere not too cold, living room or kitchen, somewhere in an open space like the garden, generally without distractions other than easy listening music. So, depending on what season it is, where you are located, home, work, bus stop etc. there is no limit to where you can stretch. Just try and relax, make sure there is enough space to do what you need to complete, in a comfortable, relaxing, peaceful environment.
With my background in Martial Arts, Competitive Triathlons, as a Swimming Teacher and Lifeguard, I thoroughly enjoy my Work & Play, but I’m obviously human and so do get bored. What I’m wanting to say is keep it ‘interesting’ by making it ‘varied’ so you are more likely to stick with something, if it stays ‘exciting’. Warming up and Stretching, can be fun, but use your imagination to keep your mind and body active, by changing routines regularly and of course using them again in the future.
Just to give balance to this article, some ‘professionals’ state that there are limited benefits from stretching so therefore can actually cause more harm by stretching incorrectly. My basic understanding of this is, make every effort to be in control of your actions. Stretch slowly and gently, effortlessly, with specific, relaxed focus on body parts, as there is no guarantee from injury, so amateurs through to Olympic Athletes are not exempt. If done correctly then it will cut down on you running injuries, can an osteopath help with running injuries?