Why Stretching is Important

A proper stretch before working out prepares your muscles before any routine, while stretching after exercising is more for recovery. Doing a single stretch helps the muscles, ligaments, and tendons more flexible but this is only good for a short time. Doing regular stretching will help in making the tissues grow and thus promote long term flexibility. When your muscles are sore, a good stretch will help you feel better.

Why is stretching important?

  • Decreases back pain
  • Helps with pain relief
  • Stress management
  • Promotes circulation
  • Mechanical efficiency
  • Helps decrease stiffness
  • Muscular relaxation
  • Improves Posture
  • Reduces the risk of injury
  • Prepares the body for the activity

Main types of stretching

Static stretching is simple, it’s holding a stretch for 30 seconds to up to a few minutes.

The second one is dynamic stretching which is best done before you exercise to engage your nervous system and warm you up.

Stretching Tips

  • Breathe when you stretch. Breathing as you stretch will help relieve the tension and stress in the muscles and will improve the quality of the stretch because it will help you hold it longer.
  • Pay attention to your posture as you do each stretch. Keep your chin up and your spine straight. Engage your core and align your hips with your shoulders.
  • Start slow and don’t do too much stretching if you are doing it for the first time. Start with a few stretches and add more repetitions as you get used to it.
  • Stop when you feel pain. Expect to feel mild tension in the muscles as your stretch, but the pain is indicative that there is something wrong. So, stop right away if you feel it.

It is common to experience muscle fatigue and soreness from exercising because your muscle fibres get damaged when it works harder. So, it is essential to stretch as well after your workout so that your muscles get relaxed.

What’s great about stretching is that it can be done anywhere, anytime because you don’t need any equipment. If you finish a workout and ran out of time at the gym, just fit in a few stretches before you forget it.

Here are some exercises that you can try when you want a good stretch. When doing a stretch, focus on the part of your body that you want to work on.

Pre-Workout Stretches

Hip Rotations

  • Start in a standing position, with feet wider than hip-width apart.
  • Bend your arms and place your hands behind your head.
  • Bend your knee as you lift one leg up.
  • Circle that leg across your body, up toward your chest, then back down to the starting position. –
  • Repeat on the other side.
  • Continue for 30 to 60 seconds.

Knee Lifts 

  • Start in a standing position, with feet wider than hip-width apart.
  • Bend your arms, placing your hands behind your head.
  • Lift one leg up toward your body, bending your knee as you do, as if you were trying to touch your rib cage with your knee. –
  • Continue for 30 to 60 seconds

Post-Workout Stretches

Lunging Hip Flexor Stretch

  • Begin by kneeling down on your left knee.
  • Keep your right knee bent, with your right foot flat on the floor in front of you.
  • Lean forward and stretch your left hip out towards the floor.
  • Hold this stretch for 30 to 60 seconds before switching legs and doing the opposite side

Overhead Triceps Stretch 

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and roll your shoulders back and down to release any tension.
  • Reach your right arm up to the ceiling, then bend your elbow to bring your right palm down toward the centre of your back.
  • Bring your left hand up to gently pull your right elbow downward.
  • Hold this stretch for 20 to 30 seconds before switching arms.
  • Repeat on both sides 2 or 3 times, attempting to get a deeper stretch with each repetition
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