Most people think fitness is all about cardiovascular and strength exercises, but stretching is also an important part of fitness.
Stretching daily is essential for achieving and maintaining optimal fitness.
Besides improving athletic performance, stretching is also beneficial to out overall health and should be practiced daily.
We require flexibility to maintain a range of motion in our joints, and stretching helps keep muscles flexible, strong, and healthy.
Without stretching, muscles shorten and become tight.
Then, when you engage the muscles, they are weak and cannot execute all of their functions.
This can lead to joint pain, muscle strains, and muscle damage.
An example would be sitting in a chair all day, resulting in tight hamstrings.
This can make it harder to extend your leg or lift your leg all the way, which can hinder walking.
The same is true when tight muscles are suddenly required to perform a strenuous activity, such as playing tennis, which can cause them to sore because they are suddenly stretched.
Injured muscles may not be strong enough to support the joints, which can lead to joint injury.
Regular stretching keeps muscles long, lean, flexible and keeps your muscles healthy that can help a person with balance problems to avoid falls.
Here are 5 benefits of stretching:
You can improve your posture by stretching. Tight muscles can contribute to poor posture.
You can stretch to improve your range of motion and prevent arthritis.
Your back may be less painful if you stretch.
You can prevent injuries by stretching.
Your muscles may feel less sore if you stretch.
How and When Should I Stretch?
Stretching should be done at least three times per week, as well as before and after games and practices. It is important to warm up the muscles for 5-10 minutes before stretching. During a warm-up, you perform a light exercise to relax and loosen your muscles. The goal is to increase blood flow to the muscles and tendons.
Hold stretches gently for 20 to 45 seconds, repeating each stretch 2-3 times for any muscles you are loosening up. Pain should not be a part of stretching. It takes time for muscles to tighten up, so take your time during stretching to get the most benefit.
In order to gain the benefits of stretching, it’s important to stretch properly:
Warm-up. Never stretch a cold muscle; it can cause injury. You should instead warm up your muscles with some cardio activity. By doing so, you will make your muscles more flexible and receptive to stretching.
Breathe. We often hold our breath when stretching, but this is counterproductive because it leads to tightness and resistance. Rather, breathe into a stretch. Take slow, deep breaths. As you exhale, you might feel yourself naturally sinking a little deeper into the stretch.
Be gentle. Stretches should never be forced. Allow your body to tell you how far to stretch instead of forcing yourself to take it. Flexibility will naturally increase over time, forcing a stretch will only result in injury, not increased flexibility.
Be consistent. Stretching regularly is one of the best ways to increase flexibility. Ideally, you should do this 3 to 5 times per week. If you commit to a stretching program, you will see results.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST: For your safety, You should consult a health professional for advice on how to stretch and assess your muscle strength. If you have chronic conditions or arthritis, talk to your doctor before starting a new stretching regimen.
Learn more via the LYBL Fitness website.