Stretching It OutMarch 28, 2013
Many people make the assumption that stretching and warming up are pretty much the same thing, when in fact they are quite different. Warming up is the preparation of your body for the demands of the physical activity you have planned, whereas stretching is focused on specific areas that are tight and require loosening.
While studies have shown mixed results on the effectiveness of stretching, possible benefits include:
- increased range of motion in the joints
- improved muscular coordination
- reduced level of muscle tension
- improves flexibility
- and enhanced circulation
Stretching exercises should be performed for 5 – 10 mins and should concentrate on the muscles that feel tight. Be aware of your body – mild discomfort (tension and pull) is to be expected while holding a stretch but sharp pain is usually a signal that a person has pushed too far.
Static vs. Dynamic stretching
Dynamic stretching consists of functional based exercises which use sport specific movements to prepare the body for activity. Generally performed before a work out, they consist of controlled exercises that improve range of motion, loosen up your muscles and increase your heart rate.
Static stretching is the slow and constant movement of a muscle to a fixed end point, and can be held for up to 30 seconds. Holding a muscle in an elongated, fixed position can hurt performance if done before a workout, so it’s recommended that this type of stretching is most appropriate to perform as part of your cool down.
When is a good time to stretch?
Stretching your body should be done after your muscles are already sufficiently warmed up. Give yourself 15-20 minutes to work up a bit of sweat, then add in 5 – 10 minutes of stretching.
Evidence suggests that athletes can benefit from a regular stretching program if it executed properly and timed within a workout to reduce the risk of injury. Aside from the physical benefits, stretching can also provide a proper mindset and mental focus for the training ahead.
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