The Importance of Stretching

Stretching is a form of physical exercise in which a certain muscle or tendon is deliberately flexed or stretched in order to improve the muscle’s elasticity and achieve comfortable muscle tone.

There are many different types of stretching including:

Dynamic stretching: this involves moving parts of your body and gradually increasing your reach, speed of movement or both.

Dynamic stretching improves dynamic flexibility and is quite useful as part of your warm-up for an active or aerobic workout. Such dynamic stretches as swinging your arms forwards and backwards or leg swings,side to side and forwards and backwards.

Active stretching: An active stretch is  where you find a position and then hold it there with no assistance other than using the strength of your agonist muscles (the muscle that contracts while others relax) For example, The hamstring stretch, lay on the floor bringing your leg up high and then holding it there without anything (other than your leg muscles themselves) to keep the leg in that extended position (i.e no hands, used a lot in Yoga)

Active stretching increases active flexibility and strengthens the agonistic muscles. Active stretches are usually quite difficult to hold and maintain for more than 10 seconds and rarely need to be held any longer than 15 seconds.

Passive or Static stretching: A passive stretch is one where you find a position and hold it with some other part of your body, or with the assistance of a partner or some other apparatus. For example, a hamstring stretch, bringing your leg up high and then holding it there with your hand.

Relaxed stretching is also very good for “cooling down” after a workout and helps reduce post-workout muscle fatigue, and soreness. Each stretch should be held around 15-20 seconds

WARNING!!!!! Static stretching before exercise decreases the blood flow within your tissue creating localised Ischemia (a restriction in blood supply) and lactic acid buildup. This can potentially cause irritation or injury of local muscular, tendinous, lymphatic, and neural tissues.

Benefits of dynamic stretching Pre workout:

  1. One of the main advantages of dynamic stretching is warming up the muscles to their working temperature, stretching them and therefore improving their function.
  1. Dynamic stretching will prepare you better for high intensity exercises. Your body needs to be ready for what is coming.
  1. Another advantage is mental aspect of dynamic stretching. It will prepare you better for your training session.
  1. Dynamic stretching will also improve your mobility both in short term (as a warm up for a workout) and long term while helping you reduce the probability of injury and it will likely positively affect your performance.

Benefits of static stretching Post workout:

  1. increased flexibility
  2. increased circulation
  3. Pain and injury prevention
  4. improved range of motion
  5. eliminates lactic acid
  6. increases energy levels
  7. increased muscle coordination
  8. cools down the body gradually
  9. promotes muscle tone
  10. reduces cramping

 

 

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