We all have been told that we must stretch-stretch-stretch before and after every workout. Yet many of us have no idea what stretching does for us, and don’t bother to do it. Worse still, we rush through a quick stretching routine that is not only ineffective but sets us up for potential injuries. Proper stretching does play a very important role in both overall health and performance in workouts or sports.
The importance of stretching for our bodies?
One of the primary benefits of regular stretching is that it can help prevent muscular imbalances. Because no one has perfectly symmetrical muscular development, and we all tend to use one side of the body more than the other, we create a situation in which some muscles must overcompensate for others. This leads to muscular weaknesses and underdevelopment in some areas of the body. Stretching regularly helps to lengthen tight overused muscles and strengthen underused muscles. Correcting musculoskeletal imbalances can help ease everyday aches and pains, improve posture and alleviate lower back pain.
What is the best way to stretch?
It is possible to actually injure oneself form over-stretching, so it is very important to practice good form. Experts recommend that you stretch slowly, and only as deeply as you can comfortably go, and that you hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. It is important that you feel the stretch through the muscle and not in the joints.
Stretching cannot do directly improve sports performance. Rather, a regular routine of stretching will help to increase flexibility that offers a degree of protection from injury over time. Flexible muscles also recover quicker from injuries, and stretching gently can even help to speed the recovery process. Most fitness experts recommend that you only stretch after your muscles have warmed up.
Stretching incorrectly can cause injury in itself, so be certain to research some safe stretches for each muscle group. Additionally, when you are stretching, you should always move slowly and gently into the stretch. Remember, you should never feel any pain while stretching- if you do stop or reduce the intensity of the stretch immediately. When practiced correctly, stretching is an essential part of any fitness regimen and can help you to avoid injury, increase flexibility and better posture.