Why Stretch Yourself?
Your body has over 600 muscles, and they vary in shape, size, and function. What is common to all of them is that every one of them expands and contracts. Persistent use of the same muscle groups can result in overtraining, insufficient rest and habitual shortening of the muscles. Alternatively, in muscles that don’t get used enough, the fibres begin losing their vitality and elasticity.
Stretching helps to restore normal length to otherwise shortened and fatigued muscles. The pain and tension in shortened soft tissues will gradually accumulate over time and rarely abate without some specific remedial stretches.
Whilst stretching certainly won’t prevent injury, keeping your body moving into the ranges it should be capable of can certainly reduce some of your risk!
Follow these 8 basic rules for stretching success:
- 1.Stretch warm muscles: stretch after your warm up or as part of your cool down
- 2.Don’t bounce or jiggle – hold nice and steady.
- 3.Don’t push for pain – stop at a level you can hold
- 4.Hold neutral posture ie. Don’t push so far you’ve got to contort the rest of your body to get there!
- 5.Stretch both sides equally – unless one is injured and needs some extra attention
- 6.Be careful with injured areas – seek advice. Stretching is not always the best treatment for injured parts and can be harmful ie. Stretching sore tendons make them worse!
- 7.Breathe – don’t hold your breath
- 8.Don’t Rush – this is designed to be the slow part of exercise. Enjoy the change!
Give your muscles the chance to adjust to the stretch by holding the position for 20 to 30 seconds when using a static technique.
Dynamic stretching has also shown to be useful – this means you can move in and out of the stretch slowly. Take the time to gradually increase the range and amplitude of movement so you are not extending the muscles too far too quickly. And if you are stretching to warm-up dynamic stretching is much better!