It is safe to say that stretching before you exercise is one of the most under-appreciated health tips. Yes, it’s popular to establish a cardio-style exercise regime. Yes, it’s helpful to improve muscle tone by lifting or with other isometric practices. But stretching? Who has time for that?
The fact is, that athletic-looking man or woman in the parking lot who is walking on crutches or that great tennis player you watched at the courts with two knee braces to keep him going is often someone who did not stretch before going full force in their chosen sport. In addition, many people who stretch will tell you they do so because they suffered a ligament tear in high school or the doctor warned them their knee would “blow out” again if they didn’t take proper care of themselves.
Of course, you can stretch properly and still get hurt. You can ignore stretching and get lucky, working out hard without injury. But you are still raising risks by not stretching before your workout. Here’s why.
BENEFITS OF STRETCHING
Makes tasks easier
Increased flexibility simply makes it easier to perform in any sport. Furthermore, going hard in any sport can make muscles and ligaments tighten, rather than gain flexibility, according to the Mayo Clinic. So, why risk injury or a compromised performance?
Improves range of motion
An approved range of motion is also why some tasks are easier when you stretch first. You can reach further, run easier, and extend yourself a bit more when you stretch regularly. Have you ever noticed how you can climb a set of stairs much easier after you stretch?
Having good posture can be compared to the balance you need to ride a bicycle. When you are in balance, the bike seems to have no weight. When you are off-balance, then you realize how much the bicycle weighs.
The same can be said for better posture. You can run faster and react quickly when you have the correct posture. Also, the correct posture will translate to less wear and tear progression on your joints.
Your cardio-vascular system pumps oxygen to the many parts of your body. Oxygen is transferred from the atmosphere to your blood supply by your lungs. You also need to exhale carbon dioxide.
Needless to say, your cardio-vascular system is critical for all human movement and survival. When you exercise, of course, you breathe harder, because your body needs more oxygen when you work out. Stretching helps by getting your heart pumping at a higher rate before you start running hard.
Some Tips On Stretching
There are two basic styles of stretching. One is called “dynamic” stretching. This involves stretching in a more aggressive style – stretching by exercising lightly or “bouncing” as you stretch.
The other style of stretching is called “static ” stretching. This style involves no bouncing, only pulling gently on muscles and ligaments. With static stretching, you stretch in one direction gently and keep up the pressure for a moment or two.
Leg stretches while sitting with your legs stretched out in front of you and bending forward is a form of static stretching, while running in place would be seen as dynamic stretching.
Stretching a muscle group gently but firmly is recommended for static stretching, widely viewed as the correct style for most of us. It is also recommended that you hold each stretch for 30 seconds, then relax and repeat the stretch several times.
If the stretching causes you pain, you have gone too far. Ease back and aim for pain-free stretching. If the pain persists or reduces your functioning significantly, discuss the matter with your physician.
For top sports injury care in the Tempe, Arizona, area, call the FXRX clinic for an appointment. Dial 480-449-FXRX.