Earlier this week (on my Instagram) I admitted I have a lot of work to do in the stretching department..
So, I thought I would follow up with a blog, highlighting some of the importance of this fitness component...
Benefits of stretching can include:
restore and/or maintain muscle balance
necessary for proper posture
decrease muscle tension and stiffness
increase joint range of motion & reduce joint stress
reduce risk of musculoskeletal injury and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)
reduce incidence of lower back pain
increase performance in physical activities
promote physical and mental relaxation
Don’t use static stretching as your warmup.
Start with some light activity (ideally 5-10). If you stretch before your muscles are warmed up, they will be more stiff and actually more susceptible to strains and/or pulls.
Many professionals suggest Dynamic Warmups. Such warmups consist of movements similar to the ones you will be engaging in for your sport or activity. Start at a slower speed and intensity, gradually increasing both.
There is more research to support benefits of stretching after your workout.
Make symmetry a goal.
Don’t neglect one side! Having equal flexibility (side to side) helps with balance, and lowers risk for injury.
Focus on major muscle groups and joints that you use routinely.
example: calves, quads, hips, lower back, neck and shoulders, etc.
Pain does not = gain.
Tension is ok, and actually expected. If you are in pain, you are overdoing it!
As with any exercise… if you don’t stay consistent, you will not get (consistent) results!
By incorporating regular stretching into your routine (a few times weekly - doesn’t have to be every day), you will reap the benefits, and make consistent progress.
Don’t forget — stretching does not guarantee you cannot get injured. Although, it is often used as, and proven to be, a preventative measure. Talk to your healthcare provider about the most appropriate stretches and techniques, if you have any health concerns.
NETA’s fourth edition of “The Fitness Professional’s Manual”