Why Stretch?

Flexibility is regarded to be the amount of movement available at a joint or range of joints. The amount of movement can be affected by a persons age, gender, temperature and the history of activity of that individual.

Stretching is commonly held by men to be the realm of women and that lifting heavy weight is what real men do. This way of thinking may well be regretted by many of those who utter it as they age (Allah knows best).

From the benefits of stretching are:

Reduce Stress

Your mind and body feel more relaxed during and after stretching

Increase Range of Motion

To avoid tightening of joints, regular stretching will increase the range at which you can move at a joint.

Reduce the risk of Injury

Strong but un-stretched muscles are less able to resist stress than a strong pre-stretched muscle. Stretching reduces the risk of back issues and prevents joint sprains.

Prepares for Exercise

By stretching before your main exercise session the body is prepared for the stresses and strains to come, increases bodily awareness, mind-muscle connection and performance of skillful movements.

Promotes Recovery

Reduces muscle soreness after exercise and promotes circulation.

Types of stretching

Before you begin your main exercise session you should begin with Preparatory stretching, stretching the muscles you will be using during exercise. These stretches should be gentle and held for between 8-10 seconds, done standing.

Maintenance stretches are usually held for 10-15 seconds to help alleviate any potential soreness during the closing phase of your session. They (maintenance stretches) help to get muscles back to their normal length after an exercise session that has focused on a specific muscle set e.g. a large number of squats.

The last type of stretching we’ll look at is the Developmental stretch which is aimed at increasing overall flexibility and is thus performed at the end of an exercise session. The stretch is held for 20 seconds at a time so it’s important that the muscle being stretched is relaxed. Executed while on the floor or in a seated position, they should be performed using your own body-weight or with gravitational pull and the pressure of hands due to partner work.

Developmental stretch (Phase 1) initial stretch is taken to the point of tension and held until the muscle relaxes further.

Developmental stretch (Phase 2) a further period of at least 20 seconds.

You shouldn’t notice your limb shaking, if you do, the stretch has been taken too far and should be released.

As you’ll now come to understand, stretching has a place in all of our lives – past the morning stretch as you rub your eyes. From increasing range of motion to relaxation, stretching has benefits that can remain for as long as we live if we were to allot some time to stretching now. While the Corona virus has shut down most gym’s it makes sense to increase your amount of stretching in preparation for getting back into the gym.

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