Stretching for sport or exercise improves flexibility significantly. It increases the abilities of your joints to move through their full range of motion which means how far it can twist, bend and reach.
Stretching is a type of physical exercise. In stretching a muscle or tendon (or muscle group) is flexed deliberately. It helps to achieve relaxed muscle tone and improve the muscle's elasticity. You can also use stretching as a treatment to relieve cramps.
Benefits of Stretching
Here are some benefits of that stretching can off your body and mind.
For your body
- Helps improve your flexibility by increasing your range of motion.
- Stretching assists in maintaining the correct posture by elongating tight muscles that are pulled away from their actual position.
- Stretching can increase your nutrient and blood supply to your muscles, reducing muscle soreness.
For your mind
- Even a short 10-15 minutes of stretching can relax your mind. It gives you a mental break and your body some time to recharge.
- You can also join classes for yoga or pilates that can give you a chance to spend an hour releasing mental and physical tension.
Different Types of Stretches
Stretching has evolved over the years, now there are several styles and each has its own set of advantages. So, you can choose the type that fits well in your routine.
- Static stretch: This includes stretching your body part until you feel mild discomfort. Hold the position to provide an excellent stretch to your muscles of that area, usually for at least 30 seconds or longer.
- PNF or Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation: You can perform this stretch in various ways. However, your common focus should be on contracting and relaxing your muscle while keeping yourself in the stretch position. You may find it difficult in the first few try's, but regular practise can change that.
- Dynamic stretch: This type of stretch is trendy because of the rise in power yoga and dynamic yoga popularity. While the basic movements remain the same as static's, you have to repeat movements like arm swings gently. You can gradually increase your range of motion but always remain within the normal range of motion. Do not force yourself too much.
- Ballistic or bouncing stretches: This too is an extension of a static stretch. You get into your primary position and perform a bouncing movement in that position to increase your range of motion.
How to Stretch Properly?
If you want to stretch correctly and safely, slowly extend your muscle until you feel resistance. Resistance is a point where you feel a slight pull in your muscle. This stretch should not hurt or cause you pain. Hold each position for 10 to 20 seconds without bouncing.
remember to breathe deeply and regularly. Do not hold your breath. Ensure you warm up your muscles before you stretch. The best time to do this is after your exercise when muscles are very supple.
To get the most from your stretching, here are some suggestions:
1. Pre-workout stretch
It would be best if you warmed your muscles before you begin stretching. Do a warm-up that stimulates the moves you will be doing for working out to prepare your body. Stretch after your workout because your muscles are warm.
2. Focus on specific muscles
Do not try to stretch your whole body after you finish exercising. Focus on one specific area of the body every time. Spend more time on each stretch and add more stretch routines for each part. If you already know which muscles are tight, focus on those muscles.
3. Include 1 long-duration flexibility
Do your flexibility work for 45-60 minutes at least once in a week. If you are having trouble following it, create a schedule/calendar and mark the days.
Regular stretching can increase flexibility. It makes muscles suppler and manages the nervous system to bear further stretching. However, remember that flexibility gained from regular stretching will disappear once you stop – usually within 3-4 weeks.
Adopt stretching in your daily routine. It will keep your mind tension free and relaxed. You can also consult a physiotherapist for more guidance on which type of stretching is best for your body.