Stretching, in general, is very important for flexibility, range of motion and injury prevention. Incorporating stretching into your daily routine is just as important to health and body functioning as regular exercise. It relaxes your muscles and increases blood flow and nutrients to your cartilage and muscles. There are debates as to whether or not it is best to stretch before or after exercise. There are also conflicts regarding the best way to stretch and how long an individual should hold their stretches.
Use these tips to help you with your stretching routine:
- Do dynamic stretches before your workout or activity. The short definition of dynamic stretching is “stretching as you are moving”. Dynamic stretching can mimic the exercises that you will perform during your workout to help your body get used to the movements. Dynamic stretching is important to increase core temperature, range of motion and nervous system activity.
- Static stretches can be done every day and are especially important after a workout. Be sure to stretch out the muscles you used in your workout. Static stretches require no movement and should be held for approximately 30 seconds.
- Stretching should not be painful. If you are feeling pain then loosen the stretch slightly.
- Stretching the muscles of the lower back, chest and shoulders can help keep the spine in better alignment and improve overall posture.
- Stretching exercises have powerful stress-busting abilities. Stretching loosens tight muscles which helps your muscles both relax and increase blood flow. It also encourages the release of endorphins, providing a sense of tranquility.
- Don’t bounce throughout your stretch. Bouncing the stretch will produce tiny tears within the muscle.
- Always remember to breathe when you are stretching.
If you’re feeling tired or you feel like your day is dragging, it might be time to get up out of your chair and do a few good stretches. Muscles tighten when we get tired and stretching will help increase blood flow to our muscles and keep us more alert.
If you’re not sure where to start here’s some sample stretches you could do .
by Cindy Hunt
Cindy Hunt is certified with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiologists as a Certified Personal Trainer. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree and graduated with Honours from the NAIT Personal Fitness Training Program. She holds numerous group fitness certifications. Her passion lies in motivating others to get active and pursue a healthy lifestyle. She has worked with athletes, dancers, aquafit participants, pre and post-natal woman, older populations and anyone who is looking to reach their fitness goals.