Often times people overlook the importance of stretching, which can lead to a series of injuries. People either are already short on time and don’t want to waste any time with stretching at all, or just rush through it leaving them without getting any benefit. Too many people focus purely on exercise, and not enough time on stretching.
Stretching is necessary for any and every type of workout, whether it be running on the treadmill, or lifting weights. It allows the muscles to warm up, decreasing any unnecessary strain, cramping, and/or other injuries that can occur when cold muscles are worked too quickly and too intensely.
According to this article from MayoClinic, stretching improves flexibility. Better flexibility helps your joints to move through their full range of motion, which decreases your chance of injury.
Like this example from the article:
For instance, say your Achilles tendon is tight and lacks flexibility. If you do a lot of hill walking, your foot may not move through its full range of motion. Over time, this can increase your risk of tendinitis or tendinopathy in your Achilles tendon. Stretching your Achilles tendon, though, may improve the range of motion in your ankle. This, in turn, can decrease the risk of microtrauma to your tendon that can lead to overload and injury.
Now that you know why stretching is so important, here’s some great tips on how to make sure you are stretching correctly:
Warm up with a 3 to 5 minute light cardiovascular training to warm the muscles sufficiently before jumping right into stretching, “as you could injure your muscles if stretching them when they are cold”. Stretch each major muscle group slowly and with control. Hold each stretch at the point of mild tension or tightness, but not to the point of pain, for 1 to 3 sets of 10 to 60 seconds.
It is just as important to stretch after doing any physical activity. During exercise your muscles tighten and shorten, so you want to make sure to stretch them out to restore and improve their length.
When not to Stretch:
· Following muscle strains or ligament sprains
· When joints or muscles are infected, inflamed or hurt
· After a recent fracture
· When sharp pains are felt in the joints or muscles.
Stretching should be a relaxing, beneficial thing. If you ever feel pain, stop! If the pain persists check with your doctor, you may have more than just a loose muscle on your hands!
Written by: Jentry