Stretching exercise as part of a workout program is sometimes ignored. Strength and cardio activities are given priority over all other types of workouts. Let’s look at stretching and how it may improve your exercises while also boosting your overall health.
If you do not stretch regularly, your body will become sluggish and more vulnerable to muscle pain. In addition, when the mobility of your joints and muscles is restricted, your chances of suffering an injury increase naturally. Therefore, including stretching exercises before and after your workout is essential.
What Is Stretching?
Stretching keeps muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, which is essential for joint range of motion. Stretching is the process of lengthening a muscle or a muscle group to its maximum length. It should be added to your daily routine. Stretching can help you increase your flexibility as well as reduce stress and enhance your posture.
Let us dive into the benefits of stretching and understand each one of them in detail.
What are the Benefits of Stretching?
8 reasons stretching is good for you.
1. Reduces the Risk of Injury
Stretching before and after a workout will increase your range of motion. As a result, you will see an increase in your performance. The more mobility and flexibility you have, the more active the muscles are. Also, it reduces the risk of injury while exercising.
2. Improves Flexibility:
Incorporating static and dynamic stretches into your regular workout routine might help you become more flexible. As a result, you will find it much easier to work out.
- Reduces and aches and pain:
A regular stretching exercise can help to relax muscles and reduce tightness. For example, a nine-hour-a-day sitting job can tighten hamstring and hip flexor muscles, placing strain on your back and causing pain in your back, knees, and legs. Stretching for a few minutes every day will help you relax and sit comfortably throughout the day.
- Increases blood flow in the muscles:
Stretching regularly improves blood flow in the muscles, which reduces recovery time and muscle soreness following an exercise.
- Reduces Stress:
Stretching and exercising can help you feel better and reduce stress. For example, a 10-minute light stretching exercise can enhance blood circulation by releasing endorphins that decrease stress and make you feel lighter throughout the day.
- Motivates You To Workout:
Walking, high knees, walking lunges, and stair climbing are all examples of dynamic stretching that psychologically prepare you for a workout. It encourages you to finish and complete your training. In addition, stretching motivates you to meet your fitness objectives.
- Improves Posture:
When you stretch your lower back muscles, neck, shoulders, and chest, it improves your sitting posture by keeping them aligned.
- Can keep you calm:
Stretching not only improves flexibility but also improves focus to maintain the stretches. Gentle stretches can also help you relax and unwind at the end of your workout. It also works as a meditation.
Where Do You Start?
It’s ideal to begin stretching your upper body with the neck, arms, shoulders, and upper back. Hamstring stretches, calves, hip flexors, and quadriceps on the front of the thigh are all examples of lower body stretches.
Stretching for one day will not give you the flexibility you desire. Flexibility takes months to improve. It is not required to stretch every muscle every day, but we recommend that you do it at least three times a week with adequate supervision.
Types of Stretching
There are different types of stretching
- Dynamic stretching
- Passive stretching
- Active stretching
The most common types of stretching in any form of exercise are:
Static stretching: It includes the muscle’s movement to its full motion range. It is performed once the muscle has warmed up. Static stretches involve holding a stretch in a comfortable position for 20-30 seconds. It’s also known as post-workout cool-down stretches.
Some examples of static stretches are
- Shoulder stretch– Stretch your right arm parallel to the floor across the front of your chest while standing tall with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place it on your left arm and bend it closer to the chest; you’ll feel a strain on your right arm. Change positions after 10 seconds of holding the position. Next, repeat the same on your left shoulder.
- Hamstring stretch: Begin by sitting on the floor and stretching both legs out in front of you. Place the sole of your left foot against the knee of your right leg and try to bend your upper body forward; keeping your back straight, you will feel a stretch in your left leg. Hold the posture for 10 seconds before switching to the other leg.
Dynamic stretching is performed before a workout to warm up the muscles and prepare them for exercise. These stretches are not held for long in their end position. They also aid in the reduction of body stiffness before beginning any exercise.
Some common dynamic stretches include:
- Leg Swing: Swing your whole leg front and back in swinging motion.
- Lunge with a twist: Step forward and lunge, but don’t let your knee cross past your ankle and twist your torso.
Now that you’ve read about all of the fantastic benefits of stretching, let’s look at some tips and techniques.
5 TIPS FOR PROPER STRETCHING
- Proper execution: This is the most important thing to keep in mind before stretching. Before beginning a stretch exercise, it is necessary to warm up. Cold muscles should never be worked since they aren’t flexible enough. Stretching is usually best done after a workout. Warm up with some on-the-spot running or walking before beginning stretching exercises.
- Do not bounce: It’s not a good idea to bounce between stretching exercises. It can cause strained muscles if done too forcefully. It is also known as ballistic stretching. Instead, you may simply extend into the stretch instead of bouncing.
- Breathe: Do not hold your breath. When you hold your breath unintentionally, it causes resistance and tense muscles, preventing you from getting the full benefit of the stretch. Instead, take a few deep breaths into the stretch. Slowly and thoroughly inhale. Exhale slowly as well.
- Do not overdo it: Allow your body to recover and rest well from past workouts and stretches. When your body is in the rest phase, it heals quickly. Overstretching can lead to damage of muscle tissues.
- Do not stretch if you have an injury: If you experience discomfort or pain, we advise you to stop immediately. Do not stretch the injured muscle or get advice from a physiotherapist about alternative stretching exercises to improve flexibility.
We’ve put up a list of simple daily stretching exercises to help you achieve a healthy body and mind. These stretches can be done anywhere, anytime.
6 STRETCHES YOU SHOULD DO EVERY DAY
- Neck rolls: Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Gently roll your head backward in a clockwise motion. Do it 5 times. Then move the head anti-clockwise in the opposite direction but maintaining the same action.
- Ankle Rotations: Stand with your left foot on the ground and your right foot in the air, place your entire body weight on your left leg. Use your core to stand straight for 10 rotations and turn your knees clockwise and counterclockwise.
- Behind-head tricep stretch: Extend your left arm straight upwards, elbow near to your head. Bend your left elbow and place your left hand behind your neck. Hold the left upper arm behind the elbow with the right hand and slowly press down to push the left hand farther down. Hold for 10 seconds, then take a 5-second break before continuing with the opposite arm. Repeat three times.
- Standing Hamstring Stretch: Straighten your back. Bend the right knee slightly and stretch the left leg forward, keeping the right foot level on the ground. With the heel on the ground and the toes facing upward, flex the left foot. Bend forward slightly, raising your left toes, and place your hands on your right thigh. Hold for 20 seconds before resting for ten seconds. Repeat the exercise with the opposite leg. Repeat the entire stretching exercise three times more.
- Forward Bend Stretch: Stretch your arms over the head and sweep to bring your arms down close to your feet. Keep your knees soft, do not lock your knees. You will feel a stretch in the hamstrings and calves.
- Child’s pose: This is a yoga pose usually done towards the end of the workout. Kneel with your toes pointing back and your feet’ tops flat on the ground. Sit against the heels and lean back. Slide the arms forward while pushing the glutes back and lowering the chest to the floor. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds before repeating it three times with a 10-second rest break in between.
A daily stretching routine can help anybody, whether you are new to fitness or a seasoned athlete. You can expand your range of motion, improve your posture, and relax your mind by including 5 to 10 minutes of dynamic and static stretches into your routine. People of all ages can benefit from a daily stretching exercise in both physical and mental ways. This keeps muscles flexible, reducing the likelihood of sprains and strains. If extension causes pain, we recommend consulting a doctor or physical therapist since this might suggest an underlying issue.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Stretching Bad For you?
You can incorporate stretching into your daily routine. Anything overdone can be harmful to the body. Do it three times a week and allowing your body to rest can help.
Is It Important to Stretch Every day?
It is not essential to stretch every day but make it a habit to stretch thrice in a week. Stretching increases bodily flexibility and mobility, enhances blood circulation, reduces stress, and relieves muscular tightness.