What is stretching?
Stretching is a type of physical exercise where a muscle is stretched or flexed with the intention of improving muscle tone and muscle flexibility. Stretching should be performed at the beginning of your exercise.
As a result of stretching, a person can achieve increased control of his muscle and muscle mobility. Stretching is a significant way of reducing tensions associated with muscles, tendons, joints and ligaments.
Stretching tightens the weak muscles and makes them strong and sturdy. Stretching is a common exercise that should be practised regularly by every individual to lead a fit and healthy lifestyle. Stretching plays an indispensable role in fitness that not only improves your muscle power but also reduces stress and other body aches.
In this article, we explained all the vital benefits of stretching and its core importance. We hope you read it fully to the end to get some fascinating insights into stretching and its benefits.
10 Benefits of stretching
1. Improvement in physical activity
Stretching before doing an intense workout relaxes and comforts your muscles and provides you with more energy during the workout.
2. Increase in blood flow
Your blood flow in the muscle increases twice during stretching. This rapid blood flow reduces muscle soreness and makes you feel active during the workout.
3. No more back pain
If you consistently maintain the habit of stretching, your back muscles will be healthy and you don’t need to worry about back pain.
4. Stress relief
Stretching has the merit of reducing stress. It also helps to promptly refresh and rejuvenate your mind.
5. Relief from tension
Tension and headache are part and parcel of our daily life. Whenever you suffer from headaches or tension, just relax and have a cup of hot coffee. Do a little bit of stretching; this can relieve your headache.
6. Enhanced flexibility
If you maintain a proper stretching routine, you may feel good flexibility in your muscle and you can perform any sort of exercise effortlessly without any discomfort to your body.
7. Improves posture
Stretching ultimately improves body posture. Especially, stretching to muscles like the shoulders, chest and lower back keeps your back in good alignment and provides strength to the muscles.
8. Helps in nutrient transportation
Stretching plays a vital role in circulating your blood to both your muscles and joints. This helps in the transportation of good nutrients to different parts of the body.
9. Reduces lower back pain risk
Stretching provides flexibility in the hamstrings, muscles associated with the pelvis, hip flexors which reduces stress caused on the lumbar spine. Therefore, your chances of getting affected by lower back pain are reduced.
10. Increases muscle stiffness and motion
Stretching decelerates the degeneration of your joints and improves the range of body and muscle motion.
Benefits of stretching in the morning
One of the undeniable facts is when you wake up in the morning, you can’t resist stretching your body and muscles. This is a subconscious behaviour of every human. Is there actually a reason why you stretch post your sleep? When you wake up, your body gets back to normal after 8 hours of inactivity due to sleep.
Through stretching, your body muscle tone gets replenished. Stretching helps your body muscle to get refocillated to its original shape instantly. Stretching helps in bringing wakefulness to the body and makes our body active throughout the day.
Benefits of stretching daily
Stretching done once in a while is of no use and brings no resistance and power to the muscle. Stretching should be made a habit to reap the best out of it.
Most of us do stretching only when we feel active and do not practice it regularly. The best way to practice stretching is to create a routine and follow it intensively, no matter how odd it is.
Stretching daily activates your muscles to be agile and active all the time. The chances of getting prone to muscle spasms and back pain can be substantially reduced when you are actively involved in stretching daily.
Daily stretching is also beneficial for the following reasons:
- To avoid muscle strains
- To avoid joint strains
- Recover from muscle soreness
- Provide relaxation
- Prepares you for tough exercise
Stretching is an indispensable part of the exercise routine. Here are some of the key points that stress the importance of stretching before and after a workout.
Importance of stretching before exercise
Stretching before a workout makes your body and muscle pliable to perform any rigorous and intense workouts. It also reduces the possibility of muscle injury and muscle aches during a workout.
It is essential to stretch the important muscle that you are about to work out so that your muscle can prepare itself for the exercise.
For example, when you are planning to do an arm workout, stretch your arms for about 3- 5 minutes before doing an arm workout. Therefore, when you do exercise, the pressure on your muscle does not cause spasms and your workout will go smoothly.
Importance of stretching after the workout
Post-workout stretches can be very helpful in moving excess lactic acid out of your muscles and therefore reduces muscle soreness in the body.
Post-workout stretches also help the muscle relax and get back to its original shape. A post-workout stretch is also known to be a maintenance stretch and can be performed for 10-15 seconds per repetition.
Does stretching tone your body?
Yes, stretching tone your body. However, it does not increase muscle length. Stretching before a workout will indirectly help you to improve the range of your muscle strength while you perform an exercise.
What are the risks involved in stretching?
Though stretching has tons of good benefits for muscle and body, it also carries some risks if you do it in an inappropriate way.
Here are some of the potential risks you can encounter if you stretch during the following conditions:
- If you have any spasms or injury in your body, do stretching after getting a proper doctor’s advice. If you have a chronic injury, try to get in contact with any physical therapist and ask them to prepare a relevant stretching protocol for your body.
Stretching methods and techniques
Stretching is not a single exercise; there are a lot of types and techniques involved in stretching. Typically, this type of stretching can be done before starting exercise. This stretching is performed to relax and energize your muscles.
Some of the common and frequently used techniques of stretching are:
- Static stretching
- Dynamic stretching
- Passive stretching
- Ballistic stretching
- Active stretching
Static stretching and dynamic stretching are some of the most commonly used techniques in stretching.
Static stretching – This is a comfortable technique that involves stretching the body in the same position for about 10 to 20 seconds. This stretching is best for normal muscle flexibility.
Examples of static stretching
- Bicep stretch
- Cobra pose
- Seated butterfly stretch
- Head to knee forward bend
Dynamic stretching – Dynamic stretching is completely contrary to static stretching. Here, stretching is performed in different positions without any specific time limit.
Examples of dynamic stretching
- Lunge with a twist
- Knee to chest
- High kicks
- Hip stretch with a twist
- Jump squats
Passive stretching – Passive stretching is stretching in which a person stays in one position for a certain period of time. This stretch involves applying external force onto the muscle that you need to stretch.
Examples of Passive stretching
- Neck stretch
- Back stretch
- Butterfly stretch
- Chest stretch
Ballistic stretching – Ballistic stretching is quite similar to dynamic stretching. This is a warm-up stretch method that involves quick and fast movement to increase muscle flexibility.
Examples of Ballistic stretching
- Medicine ball throw
- Bench throw
- Swinging exercises for arm
- Swinging exercises for legs
Active stretching – Active stretching is a type of stretching that improves flexibility. This is a type of stretch where you fix a position and hold it without any support by only using the power and aid of your agonist’s muscles.
In active stretching, involvement of external force is not necessary. Active stretching is also known as static stretching.
Examples of Active stretching
- Leg swings
- Active Hamstring stretch
- Active tricep stretch
- Active chest stretch
- Active quad stretch
Normal stretching is more than enough to maintain good fitness and muscle stability for your body. No matter whether you are an athlete or a normal person, stretching should be made your daily routine habit before starting your day.
By incorporating stretching for about 5 to 10 minutes before your daily workout, you can improve your productivity, mindset and body fitness.
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