Stretches: The Forgotten Exercise

Regina Boyle Wheeler wrote . . . . . .

Along with aerobic and strength training, stretching is an important part of every workout routine. But many people make the mistake of skipping this key step or doing certain stretches at the wrong time.

Stretching improves flexibility and helps maintain good range of motion in your joints. It may even prevent injury. Timing is important, though.

Starting your workout with dynamic stretches can prep your body for the exercise to come, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE). These are stretches that take your body through a range of motions and raise your core temperature.

On the other hand, static stretches — stretches you get into and hold for a certain length of time without moving — before exercise can strain or pull a muscle. So, save such stretches for after your workout when your muscles are warm and loose, the ACE says.

It’s important to keep safety in mind when you’re doing static stretches in particular. Ease into each stretch and move slowly until you feel the targeted muscle or muscles gently extend. Try to hold each position for 10 to 30 seconds. Relax and then repeat the stretch two or three times. Breathe slowly and naturally.

Be sure to stretch the muscles on both sides of your body. If you stretch one hamstring, don’t forget to do the other. And to avoid tearing a muscle don’t bounce.

Remember to listen to your body as you stretch. If a particular move causes a muscle cramp or pain of any kind, stop doing it.

Source : HealthDay


Top Ten Reasons to Stretch According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE)

Since flexibility is one of the five components of fitness, it is important to impress upon your clients that stretching should be an integral part of every workout program. Here are ACE’s Top Ten Reasons to help your clients remember why they should stretch:

1. Decreases muscle stiffness and increases range of motion.

Stretching helps improve your range of motion which may also slow the degeneration of the joints.

2. May reduce your risk of injury.

A flexible muscle is less likely to become injured from a slightly extensive movement. By increasing the range of motion in a particular joint through stretching, you may decrease the resistance on your muscles during various activities.

3. Helps relieve post-exercise aches and pains.

After a hard workout, stretching the muscles will keep them loose and lessen a shortening and tightening effect that can lead to post-workout aches and pains.

4. Improves posture.

Stretching the muscles of the lower back, shoulders and chest will help keep your back in better alignment and improve your posture.

5. Helps reduce or manage stress.

Well stretched muscles hold less tension and therefore, leave you feeling less stressed.

6. Reduces muscular tension and enhances muscular relaxation.

Stretching allows the muscles to relax. Habitually tense muscles tend to cut off their own circulation resulting in a lack of oxygen and essential nutrients.

7. Improves mechanical efficiency and overall functional performance.

Since a flexible joint requires less energy to move through a wider range of motion, a flexible body improves overall performance by creating more energy-efficient movements.

8. Prepares the body for the stress of exercise.

Stretching prior to exercise allows the muscles to loosen up and become resistant to the impact they are about to undergo.

9. Promotes circulation.

Stretching increases blood supply to the muscles and joints which allow for greater nutrient transportation and improves the circulation of blood through the entire body.

10. Decreases the risk of low-back pain.

Flexibility in the hamstrings, hip flexors and muscles attached to the pelvis relieves stress on the lumbar spine which in turn reduces the risk of low-back pain.

Source : ACE

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