While the benefits of stretching are often disputed, there are some definite benefits to regular stretching. First of all, stretching increases blood flow to muscles and requires no equipment so it can be done anywhere. It also can help ease low back pain, reduce stress, and improve mood. As an added bonus stretching increases flexibility and range of motion, and may even help reduce the risk of falls. Finally, stretching is a great way to improve posture. With that being said, here is a list of things to remember about stretching:
- Never stretch a cold muscle; always warm up first. Think of your muscles as rubber bands. The warmer they are the less likely they are to snap. It is also recommended not to stretch before intense activities such as sprinting. It is thought that this may reduce performance. Stretching at the end of your work out is ideal.
- Stretch both sides equally and aim for equal flexibility on both sides.
- Never bounce during a stretch. Instead, hold each stretch anywhere from 30-60 seconds.
- Don’t overstretch. You should feel tension not pain.
- Make your stretches sport specific. For example, if you are a runner make sure to stretch glutes, hamstrings, quads, and hip flexors.
- Stretch regularly; at least 2-3 times a week.
- If you are injured, be sure to stretch gently, or change your stretching technique to accommodate for the injury.
- Try stretching in a new way (try yoga or tai chi).
- Make sure you relax and breathe while you are stretching.
Personally Trained By Sophie