Summary: In this blog post I write about why it is important to include stretching in your daily exercise routine and I also talk about the controversy and benefits behind it.
Flexibility is important for everyone!
No matter if you exercise daily, or walking the dog covers all your sport routines. Flexibility is important, and it becomes increasingly important with aging. Being healthy and fit isn’t just about exercise, ideal body weight, or various diets.
The same time, being flexible isn’t really about being able to do bendy movements, but rather about having and maintaining a good level of mobility. With that you are able to do simple things such as touching your toes, lifting a box, or reaching the top of a shelf. And please don’t think about old people here…These issues can cause problems for even teenagers, if they don’t maintain a healthy routine.
Stretching is vital because flexible muscles support our joints when we are moving. If the joints are unable to perform a full range of motions, we can get easily injured, and our body will quite likely be in pain.
Some controversy behind stretching:
As with many things these days, years ago we were told one thing, and as science developed, and more research and information became available, we found out that actually the opposite is true today. Stretching is a bit like that… While various exercises can be useful before and after workout, if you are doing the wrong kind of stretching at the wrong times, you can create more damage than benefits.
Recent research suggests that dynamic stretching is better before exercise (warm up) instead of stretching muscles and pulling joints. Such examples are burpees (yay!), squats, lunges and pushups. A set of jumping jacks can do wonders too…
Also, stretching increases the blood flow to your muscles, and at existing tissue damage it can increase oxygenation to the damaged tissues, hence recovery time gets reduced. Stretching should be a soothing, comfortable exercise and beyond a pull, you should not experience any pain in your body. Chest, hamstrings, calves, hips, and quads are the tightest muscles in our body.
When certain parts of your body are tight, other parts compensate for it. That means the the potential for injuries is much higher, and if you keep stretching the wrong way, you will most probably end up with a repetitive stress injury.
Benefits of Stretching:
It doesn’t just help you get the most out of your exercise routines, but it can also help you to feel better as you age. There are a few obvious benefits to regular stretching:
- Less lower back pain
- Reduced muscle soreness and tension
- Improved posture
- Reduced risk of injury
- Improved performance
- Increased blood flow
- Improved coordination
- Increased blood flow
- Faster muscle repair
- Stress reduction and some happy feelings
Stretching is a gentle way to work your body, and you can do it anytime, almost anywhere.
- Don’t stretch before a high-intensity workout. Stretching can decrease your performance and you also have a higher chance for inquires.
- Always make time to stretch after your workout.
- You can also stretch in, or after a session of sauna, or after a hot bath.
- Stretch the muscles you worked during your workout – Ensure you make time to stretch the tightest muscles, such as the hamstrings, quads, hips, calves and the chest.
- Don’t bounce or repeatedly pull your muscles, just hold the position for 15-30 seconds.
- Do not pull until you feel pain, it should be a gentle and non-invasive motion.
- Breath deeply during your stretch to further support your relaxation and the lengthening of your muscles.
The conclusions is that we recommend you to stretch every day regardless of your exercise regime. When exercising, stretching can help with muscle recovery as well as many other benefits as we explained above. When aiming to improve general flexibility, small exercises through the day will make a big difference. Find time on the way to work, sitting at your desk, or waiting in line to pay for your groceries. You don’t even have to reserve a set block of time together but when focusing on flexibility, you can just do one exercise a time through the day.