Stretching: Why Is It Important?

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STRETCHING: WHY IS IT IMPORTANT!

Stretching is important part of fitness that is most neglected. Unfortunately majority of people ignore stretching.

Dynamic Stretching is the stretching we want to be doing before our workouts, to warm up our muscles, prepare our body physically and mentally for the workout and decrease the chances of injury.

Static Stretching is the stretching we want to be doing when our muscles are warmed up already. Post – activity is an excellent time to perform static stretch as a part of the cool-down process.

BENEFITS OF STATIC STRETCH

  • Stretching increases range of motion and helps with stiffness and flexibility. As we get older our muscles shorten and lose their elasticity. Flexibility is probably the single most important factor affecting our quality of life as we age.
  • Stretching lengthens your muscles back after exercising.
  •  Stretching improves circulation by increasing blood flow and nutrient supply to your muscles.
  • Increases overall functional performance.
  • Keeps your spine mobile and helps with better posture.
  • Reduces risk of  injury to joints, muscles and tendons.
  • Decreases the risk of lower-back pain (tightness in your hamstrings, hip flexors and lower back may cause lower back pain).
  • Maximizes recovery and progress
  • Helps to calm the mind and reduces stress levels

General Recommendations:

Before Stretching: Never stretch a cold muscle. Prior stretching, do about 5 min of light warm-up activity.

Duration: Hold each stretch between 15-30 seconds.

Frequency: it is recommended to stretch 3 – 7 days

Breathing: Proper breathing form is important for a successful stretch. You should be taking slow, relaxed breaths when you stretch, trying to exhale as the muscle is stretching.

Intensity: Stretch to the point of comfortable tension, not pain.

Being flexible doesn’t mean there is no need to stretch. Stick to stretching, even once flexibility goals are achieved. Remember, skimping out on stretching might also decrease flexibility over time. 

Not all individuals need the same amount of stretching. Some people need to stretch certain muscles more often than other muscles. For example, working long hours at a desk can lead to seriously stiff muscles and hunched back. Chest muscles are too tight and opposite muscles are overstretched. Imbalance in flexibility and strength in those muscles may lead to injury. Chest muscles in this case need to be stretched more often and stretches might need to be repeated 2-4x.

Your flexibility can be assessed  by your fitness professional. Experienced trainers will be able to asses your flexibility of your muscles just by observing your movements. Your trainer will have you perform functional exercises such as lunges, push-ups, squats and observe how your body responds to each exercise.

Here are some stretches you can perform on stability ball:

CHEST OPENER 

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LAT STRETCH

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AB & INNER SPINE STRETCH

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LOWER BACK STRETCH

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HAMSTRING STRETCH

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HIP STRETCH

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