Stretching can help prevent injury, improve your range of motion and increase your flexibility. It is the process of putting your body in positions that lengthen your muscles and the surrounding soft tissue.
There are many benefits of stretching. It can:
• sharpen your focus and reduce stress
• reduce tension and help you relax
• help alleviate back pain
• improve your circulation
• slow joint degeneration
• improve oxygen flow around the body
• increase your energy levels and muscle coordination.
Stretching your muscles can also help lengthen your muscle fibres. Better yet, as your body gets used to a regular stretching routine, the surrounding ligaments, tendons, and connective tissue start to adapt to the movement.
Incorporating stretching into your weekly health routine is just as important as regular exercise. You can incorporate dynamic and static stretches.
Dynamic stretching involves movement. It helps to practice movement patterns and as such it increases blood flow, power, coordination and flexibility. It’s recommended to complete 10 to 12 repetitions of each dynamic stretch. Some common dynamic stretches are leg swings, hip circles and shoulder twists.
In static stretches, you move the muscle or joint as far as it can go and hold that position. You may experience some discomfort in the stretch, but you shouldn’t be in pain. If you’re in pain, you may need to reduce the range of the stretch. For the best results, researchers agree you should spend a total of 60 seconds doing each stretch. Ideally, you should hold a stretch for 15 seconds and repeat it three more times. Some common static stretches are calf, hamstring, quad and shoulder stretches.
If you’re unsure of what stretches to do, you can find lots of information online or consult an exercise professional to create a tailored stretching routine that suits your needs.