Stretching tends to be an afterthought to anyone’s workout routine. A quick stretch of the hamstrings before or after the workout seems to be enough, the workout is the main focus. Well, we may all rethink what the true benefits of stretching are. Stretching with no doubt increases your joint range of motion and can definitely prevent injury. Better joint mobility leads to improvement in sports and other physical activities and also improved blood flow. Soon enough, you will establish a little stretching routine before an event or activity. Make sure before you begin to incorporate stretching, you are confident in your techniques or consult. The worst thing you can do is incorporate stretching with bad form and end up injured.
You can stretch a cold muscle but it takes longer to bring out the best elasticity. Do not consider a quick stretch on cold muscles a warm up, stretching after a light walk or run will yield more benefit.
How to Stretch
Hold back from stretching before intense training or heavy activity because it is known to decrease performance, after the event is also a good way to alleviate lactic acid and soreness. Stretch the major muscles ( calves,quads, hamstrings, neck, back and shoulders ) and make sure to stay in a nice controlled static stretch. Static stretching is more of a constant holding stretch, not a bouncy stretching. Ballistic stretching has more of a pulse, bounce stretch which is often used by dancers.
- Hold the stretch. Stretches are typically held for 8-10 seconds and for as much as 30-60 seconds for focused problem areas.
- Be sports oriented. Stretch muscles that are used in your specific sport. For tennis, shoulders, hamstrings, quads and calves. Soccer, quads, hamstrings and calves.
- Be consistent. No improvements will be made in flexibility if you are not consistent with your stretching.
- Lead into other stretching forms. Stretching may sometimes lead into stretching with more movement such as Yoga and Pilates.
Always remember to stretch with caution and be careful of chronic injuries that stretching may not be able to fix. If there are areas that seem to continue with pain, consult a physical therapist before the condition gets worse.