THE BENEFITS OF STRETCHING and why it's important
We all know stretching is important but do we know why?
Aerobic and strength training is usually what comes to mind when think about ways of keeping fit and healthy but stretching doesn't quite get the same attention.
Not Just For Athletes
Runners and those who compete in sporting events are well aware of the benefits of stretching, but it also has a wider influence and can help people with chronic conditions such as diabetes and lower back pain.
Stretching improves flexibility and range of motion, which are common problems in people with type 2 diabetes, and increase blood flow to muscles. Research has also suggested that stretching exercises can actually play a role in lowering unhealthy blood sugar levels.
Benefits of Stretching
It helps improve your flexibility which increases your body's range of motion, enabling you to perform better in the gym or your given sport. You will also have more flexible joints which will reduce the likelihood of injuries acquired during workouts or daily activities.
Corrects posture by lengthening tight muscles that pull areas of the body away from their intended position. This could be due to long periods sat at a desk or in a car.
Stretching the muscles of the lower back, chest and shoulders can help keep the spine in better alignment and improve overall posture by relieving aches and pains.
Spending 10-15 minutes stretching can provide a mental break and give your body a chance to recharge.
Make Sure You Warm Up Before Stretching
If you are about to start a rigorous workout you should warm your body up for about 5-7 minutes with light jogging or cycling before you begin your stretches. Doing this increases blood flow to the muscles which will allow you to get more out of your stretch.
There are two main types of stretching. Dynamic stretching and static stretching.
Dynamic stretching is ideally done before your main workout and it involves a concise range of motion meant to mimic the movement we make during exercise. Performing dynamic stretches before a workout that simulate the movements you'll be doing will warm up and prepare your body for whats to come.
Static stretching involves extending your arms, legs or other body parts to the point of tension and holding that position for a period of time, usually 20-30 seconds.
This type of stretch is done after the workout when your muscles are already warm and loose, which will help you recover faster and prevent injuries.
Focus on the Muscles That Need the Most Help
After a workout it is not necessary to stretch every part of the body but instead, focus on key areas of the body which you have just trained. Spend longer on each stretch and include more stretches for each area. Make a 'mind to muscle' connection with the muscle so that you can actually feel the muscle you are wanting to stretch, and focus on areas that are tight.
Add a Flexibility Session Each Week
If you haven't already done so, try out a flexibility class such as yoga, hot yoga, pilates, or even do your own flexibility work for 45-60 minutes at least once a week and the next time you hit the gym, make sure you remember to spend a short time stretching before and after. This will immensely benefit your workout and your health.
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