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When did you learn about stretching? Was it in elementary or junior high P.E. classes? What exactly did you learn about stretching? It’s an unfortunate reality that most adults don’t understand the research and philosophy of stretching your muscles, and therefore aren’t receiving the health benefits that can come from correct stretching. Today we’re sharing exactly how you can appropriately use stretching in your fitness routine.
Flexibility is a crucial way to help your body function at optimum performance. Stretching isn’t just for athletes or workouts. Stretching can help everyone who needs a release of tension, injury and pain prevention, and higher functioning joints. Stretching can counteract the deadly effects of sitting at a computer desk and ease aging effects on your body.
Stretching doesn’t need to be tied directly to a workout, though you will get great benefits if you stretch before and after a workout. Ideally, adults should be stretching twice a week, all the main muscle groups for about 60 seconds each area.
Before or After Working Out?
In the past, the rule was slow stretches held for minutes at a time BEFORE you work out. Now studies have shown that quick and dynamic stretches right before a workout can be much more effective. Don’t be afraid to bounce a little and just quickly stretch through all the main muscle groups. Longer stretches can actually tire out muscles prematurely. Instead, you can do small versions of your workout as you build in intensity. For example, if you’re going to run you might begin with a walk, lengthen stride, some bouncing jogs, high knees, or side-to-side agility moves.
After a workout, you should take some time to cool down rather than stopping abruptly. A longer more dedicated stretching session after the workout can prevent soreness and cramping later. You can focus on breathing through stretches and holding them for as long as you can. You can even massage tense muscles as you stretch for even more relief.
How Can I Start?
It’s simple – just start! You can do it right now. After finishing this article, stand up and reach for the ceiling while breathing deeply. Then swing down and see if you can touch your toes. Rotating your arms from side to side can help loosen up your torso, and rolling your neck can ease a headache. Integrating stretching into your daily routine can help your mind and body. Try some dynamic stretches before your next workout, and loosening, hold stretches after your workout to prevent tension and injury.
Stretching is an easy way to improve your performance and keep your body young and healthy. It’s a worthy habit to adopt.