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Why We Should Stretch

Doing a stretch before a workout properly prepares our muscles for the activity that we’re about to engage in. Stretching afterwards, on the other hand, helps to encourage recovery. A single stretch will make the muscles, tendons and ligaments more flexible BUT this would be for only for a short period of time. Over time, regular stretching will induce the growth of tissues that will lead to a more long-term increase in flexibility. Remember though if your muscles are sore, stretching won't necessarily make them more flexible, but rather help them to feel better.

Why Is Stretching Important? –

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

There are two main types of stretching which you may have heard of. The most common is known as static stretching. This is best performed after a workout when your body is warmed up and more mobile. Static stretching is simple, it involves holding a stretch for 30 seconds up to a few minutes.

The second type of stretching is called dynamic stretching which Is best performed prior to exercise to help stimulate the nervous system and warm up the body.

Some Stretching Tips

• Breathe through your stretches. Breathing will help you relieve stress and tension in your muscles and can also improve the quality of your stretches and help you hold a stretch for longer.

• Watch your posture. Pay attention to your posture with each stretch. Try to keep your chin up, your spine straight, your core engaged, and shoulders aligned with your hips.

• Start slowly. Don’t try to do too much stretching if it’s the first time after a workout. You should start with a few stretches and then add more repetitions and stretches as you get used to them.

• Don’t stretch to the point of pain. You should expect feel mild tension as you stretch your muscles, but never pain. If you feel pain, stop right away.

It is very common for people to experience some level of muscle fatigue as well as muscle soreness, both of which are common side effects to exercising. What is the cause of muscle soreness? It is caused by microscopic damage to the muscle fibres when it’s required to work harder than usual. So, it is vital to include stretching to your post-workout routine to gently relax your muscles.

The best part of stretching is that it can be done anywhere and without any equipment. If you happen to finish a workout but unfortunately have run out of time at the gym, then as soon as you can have the next 10 minutes free, just fit in a couple of stretches before you forget. Your post-recovery time will thank you.

Here’s a couple of exercises that you can try the next time you’re in need of a good stretch, and remember, try focusing the stretch on the parts of your body you most likely will be working hard 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 rip cage with your knee. - Continue for 30 to 60 seconds.

Post-Workout Stretches

Lunging Hip Flexor Stretch - Begin with 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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