What if you could feel instantly better in 20 seconds?
No equipment needed. Just your body. And a little bit of space.
Most of us know about the concept of stretching, but I know it isn’t the most exciting topic. This week we nut out some of the truths about stretching.
What is stretching?
A form of physical exercise where you lengthen your muscle/tendon to improve flexibility.
How do I stretch?
You are deliberately lengthening your muscles by:
1. Statically: Holding the stretch for 20-30 seconds or
2. Dynamically: Bouncing into the stretch. Both have their benefits.
When should I stretch?
Dynamic stretching can help improve flexibility prior to exercise, though it is beneficial to do some static stretching on your worked muscles after exercise, when you are properly warm. You can also do some gentle mobility stretching when you wake up.
So… do I have to do it?
Some people will benefit hugely from doing regular stretching. Being more limber can allow you to have better form for muscle building/toning. Stretching can also decrease your risk of injuries, as your joints can move comfortably through their full range of motion. This will result in an increased performance in your physical activities/sports.
If you are currently doing strength or cardio exercise, it is important to stretch. Don’t undo your hard work by not looking after your joints and getting injured.
However, it is not necessarily as important for everyone. People with hypermobile joints (like me) actually find that they can over-stretch which can cause joint instability. Also, if you stretch incorrectly you could be doing more harm.
Personally, I am hypermobile so I actually found stretching too much to be bad for me. I have to make sure I strengthen more than the average person to keep my joints healthy and stable. However, stretching specific muscles that contributed to my back pain helped a lot.
If you are new to stretching, start by doing gentle ones. Don’t force your joints into uncomfortable positions too suddenly. Learn to stretch the muscle/tendon rather than loosen your joints. It isn’t the most exciting thing so stretch in front of the TV, or while waiting for your dinner to cook. If you incorporate it into your lifestyle you will more likely to keep it up to see the benefits.
I tried Yoga, but found it a bit of a stretch!