You wake up in the morning, what is the first gesture you make as you yawn and get out of bed?
You have been sitting at your desk for a couple of hours, what’s the first movement you make to relieve your stressed and cramped muscles.
Do you need another example?
What is Stretching?
You are stretching when you extend parts or all of your body. You sometimes do it automatically when you get up or when a muscle is cramped.
Alternatively, Stretching as part of physical training involves specific routines that help you develop and maintain a positive level of flexibility, specifically where joints mobility is concerned. It includes a number of specific body part stretches, such as calf, hamstring and triceps, as well as certain yoga positions and Pilates exercises.
What are the benefits of Stretching?
In general, the younger you are the more flexible you are, women are more flexible than men, active individuals are more flexible than inactive ones, and warm muscles are more flexible than cold ones.
As we become more sedentary and grow older, our muscle and joint range of movements, or flexibility, decreases. Oops, you can’t undo your back zipper anymore, or bend down comfortably to tie up your laces.
With regular stretching, you can maintain if not increase your range of motion.
The benefits from a regular stretching program include:
A reduction in muscle tension and improved muscular coordination
An increase in joints flexibility
Improved blood circulation and therefore increased energy levels
Mental relaxation and stress relief
Decreased muscle soreness when you stretch after exercising
What are the indications for Stretching?
Always start by stretching slowly to warm up, because a cold muscle can be pulled or torn. You can also stretch after exercising when your muscles are already warm. Remember, while Stretching strengthens muscles, you need strong muscles to stretch effectively and safely.
When you stretch you should keep your knees and elbows slightly bent to avoid stress to your joints.
For a relaxing experience, always breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth, and avoid holding your breath while stretching.
Never hurry. Stretch slowly to reduce tension and tightness in your muscles.
Don’t bounce while stretching as this increases the risk of injury
Stretching should never be painful. Stop if it hurts.
What are the different types of stretching?
Stretching can involve movement, dynamic Stretching, or it can require you not to move, static Stretching.
This is the most common type of Stretching, when you hold a stretched muscle one at a time for up to 30 seconds. It is easy, safe and effective.
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation PNF
Usually performed with a partner or trainer, you start by contracting a muscle to the maximum then you perform a static stretch on it. Between each PNF technique, you should rest the muscle for around ½ a minute.
This type of stretching uses external force, either from a partner or from a wall or the floor. Although effective, you have to be comfortable and make sure that no damaging force is being used.
Active stretching is when you stretch a muscle and hold it for a while without any external help, no one helping you, nor you holding yourself. This form of stretching increases your active flexibility and strengthens the muscles that are doing the holding work. They are most common in yoga.
This form uses gentle swings of your arms and legs, or twist of your upper body, to the extent that you can move them. There should be no bouncing involved. It enhances your dynamic flexibility is used as a warm-up for an active or aerobic workout.