When we think of being active and healthy, we focus on going on runs, walks, and maybe doing some weight lifting. Many times, stretching is overlooked and not done as frequently. What many of us don’t realize is that stretching is just as important and beneficial for our bodies.
Muscle tightness occurs not only when we are active and contracting them, but also when we are passive, both resulting in the shortening of the muscles. This tightness leads to one having less range of motion and may create a muscle imbalance.
The traditional type of stretching is static, which is when you hold a position to a point you feel the stretch. When you stretch, you improve that range of motion in your joints and boost your flexibility. Stretching lengthens your muscles which decreases tension. It also leads to increase blood flow to the muscle. When you workout, your body produces lactic acid, which makes your muscles fatigue and sore. Stretching may help eliminate the build up of this lactic acid. It can also help you ease your mind and make you feel relaxed.
To get the full benefits of stretching, make sure to do it 2-3 times a week consistently and hold each position for 15-30 seconds. Keep in mind not to bounce when you stretch because it can injure your muscle and actually make them more tight. In addition, expect to feel tension but not pain. If you feel pain, it means you’ve pushed too far. Gentle movements in yoga can help falls in order adults as well.
The best time to stretch is after your workout when your muscles are warmed up. Studies show that if you do a static stretch before you exercises like running, jumping, or weight lifting, it can decrease performance. Instead, do a dynamic stretch before exercise, which involves moving a limb through its full range of motion to the end ranges and repeating it several times. If you’re just going to do stretching that day, make sure to warm up your muscles just by walking around a little bit.
Stretching can make you feel really good and can even be fun and relaxing, especially when you do it during yoga or tai chi. Check out our videos to help you get a great stretch in and lengthen those muscles here!
Stretching: Focus On Flexibility. (2020, January 31). Retrieved May 07, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/stretching/art-20047931
Page, P. (2012, February). Current concepts in muscle stretching for exercise and rehabilitation. Retrieved May 07, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3273886/
Simic, L., Sarabon, N., & Markovic, G. (2013, March). Does pre-exercise static stretching inhibit maximal muscular performance? A meta-analytical review. Retrieved May 07, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22316148