Stretching is the important link between the sedentary life and the active life. With the tremendous number of people exercising now, the need for correct information is vital. Stretching is easy, but when it is done incorrectly, it can actually do more harm than good. For this reason it is essential to understand the right techniques.
We can learn a lot by observing animals .Watch a cat or a dog. They instinctively know how to stretch. They do so spontaneously ,never over stretching ,continually and naturally tuning up muscles they will have to use.
10 reasons why you must stretch prior to exercise
- Reduces muscle tension and makes the body feel relaxed.
- Helps coordination by allowing freer and easier movement.
- Increase range of motion
- Prevents injuries such as muscle strains.( A strong pre-stretched muscle resists stress better than a strong unstretched muscle.)
- Stretching helps to prepare your body for the exercise it’s about to get .It’s a way of signaling the muscles that they are about to be used.
- Avoid tired ,stiff and sore muscles
- Promotes circulation
- Better flexibility
- Develop Body Awareness
- It feels good
Many people can be misled by the adage ‘ No Pain, No Gain’ .But don’t be fooled .Stretching when done correctly is not painful. Learn to pay attention to your body ,for pain is an indication that something is wrong
Some of the basic techniques of stretching
- Don’t stretch too far especially in the beginning. Get a slight stretch and increase it after you feel yourself relax.
- Hold stretch in a comfortable position,the stretch tension should subside as you hold it.
- Breathe slowly deeply and naturally-exhale as you bend forward.
- Do not bounce. Bouncing tightens the very muscles you are trying to stretch. Stretch and hold it.
- Do not try to be flexible. Just learn to stretch properly and flexibility will come with time.
You should not stretch When...
- The range of motion is limited in some way
- The joint is inflamed or infected
- There has been a recent bone fracture, sprain or strain
- If you have an injury do not delay our team of chartered physiotherapists will be able to guide you on a tailor made programme of rehabilitation exercises. You will be shown when it is safe to recommence stretching.
Finally stretching before you exercise will open up many opportunities for you .You will be able to run, cycle, ski or swim with greater ease .You will find that cycling helps running and that running and cycling help skiing, and that stretching will help keep you tuned for any of these activities .No longer will you have to worry about becoming tight from one activity ,and thus cutting down on your enjoyment of another-so long as you stretch and relax.