Importance of Stretching and How to Do it Right
Stretching exercises are a specific set of physical exercises that help to elongate your muscles. These exercises are usually performed to help your body restore function or to prepare your body for an intensive workout.
Stretching help in lengthening and toning the muscle fibers. Stretching improves blood circulation in the muscles and in results toxins waste (like lactic acid) remove.It is recommended that if you don’t stretch after an exercise, you can do over-training.
The muscles that you have worked out, may remain contracted and cause your skeleton frame to misalign. That’s not good for your health.
In fact, this constant muscle tension is often the cause of structural problems as well as muscle injuries such as tendonitis.
When Should I Stretch?
It is best to stretch for at least 5 minutes before you begin any kind of exercise. This should be a routine part of your warm up. And since it helps you improve your overall muscle function, it helps you benefit more from your exercise. That means that you get more bang from your exercise.
Stretching exercises should also be performed after you have finished your exercise. These ‘cool down’ exercises should be performed for about 20 minutes after you finish your exercise.
This is a key period when your body is cooling down and lactic acid begins to build-up. It is also recommended that you stretch your muscles after repeated use in order to relax them and get rid of any tightness that might have been building.
For instance, if you have been sitting in front of a computer all day and have been typing for hours, it is preferable to stretch your neck, back and forearms to get rid of the tightness in your muscles.
It is also a good idea to stretch after waking up from long periods of sleep. When sleeping, we all tend to hold funny and often awkward positions. These positions often lead to tightness in the neck and the hips.
Why are Stretching Exercises Important?
Stretching exercises are important because they can help lengthen your muscle fibers and improve blood circulation in your muscles. Stretching can also remove waste products from your muscles. Your muscles usually have lactic acid buildup which can cause tightness in them.
Stretching exercises ultimately reduce tension in the muscles and elongate the muscles to help them relax. Relaxed muscles are less susceptible to wear and tear due to overuse and injury.
How Long Should I Stretch For?
Based on your stamina and the duration of your workout, you should aim to stretch for about 15-25 seconds per stretch. When you are stretching, your muscles experience a biochemical reaction which releases calcium from your muscles.
This helps in strengthening your muscle fibers. However, to get this benefit, you need to ensure you stretch for a sufficient period of time.
It is also important to understand that stretching for too long, can cause injury to your muscles. By overstretching, you can cause micro-tears to your muscles, which can lead to pain and injuries later.
Which the Best Stretching Technique?
There are many different types of stretches. Some involve holding a position for a certain period of time while others require some body motions. However, we will only focus on two main techniques. These are static stretching and dynamic stretching.
The most common type of stretching is static stretching. This type of stretching involves holding a position for a set amount of time as you slowly lengthen the muscle. This is the safest type of stretching that can be performed.
You are in control of how far you stretch and how long you hold the stretch. It is recommended that you hold each stretch for at least 60 seconds. If you are age 60 and over you should hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds.
When holding the stretch you should try to relax and do your best not to bounce or do quick movements. Doing such movements could result in injury. Also it is best to do static stretching at the end of a workout.
There are different theories about when to do what type of stretch. Research has shown that performance is influenced by static stretching and may decrease jump height, balance, reaction times, and movement times.
If you have ever done a Jumping Jack, Squat, Lunge or anything of that nature you have done Dynamic stretching.
The definition of Dynamic stretching according to The National Academy of Sports Medicine is the use of a muscle’s own force and the body’s momentum to take a joint through the full range of motion.
In order to perform this type of flexibility technique, one must not have any muscle imbalances and it is recommended that corrective and functional stretching techniques are used.