Why Is It Important To Stretch? Ahhhhhh… That felt good. Stretching, has always been a vital component in workout plans whether you are playing football in the playground, or competing in an international level sporting event. You’ve probably heard your PE teacher or coach telling you to stretch before and after any type of exercise.
Have you wondered why stretching is so important? Probably the most common reason you’ve heard about stretching is that it prevents injuries. And while that is true, stretching is also important for many more reasons.
Before we get into ‘how to stretch’, it’s also probably good to know the key benefits of stretching, so you’d be more motivated to dedicate a few minutes before and after your exercise routine to stretch.
- 1 Benefits of Stretching
- 2 Methods on How to Stretch
- 3 How do these stretches help for muscle growth?
- 4 How to Stretch For the Average Person
Benefits of Stretching
Stretching increases your strength
Muscle strength is increased with each stretch as it expands your range of motion. Stretching also minimizes DOMs – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. You will feel less sore the following day if you’ve done some form of stretching right after your exercise. This will help you return to the gym much sooner, which results in faster muscle growth.
Stretching increases muscle growth
A study conducted in 1993 in the ‘Journal of Applied Physiology’, University of Texas discovered that stretching enhances muscle growth. The study was conducted on 26 quails that had their wings stretched out over 38 days. The result of the experiment showed that birds had an increase of 318 percent in muscle mass compared to birds with non-stretched wings.
Stretching improves circulation and flexibility
Flexibility is the most immediate positive signs of stretching. Flexibility is the key to any exercise as it increases the fluidity of the muscles, resulting in increase of movement. Stretching increases the flexibility of the muscle that lengthens your ligaments thus avoiding sprains and soft tissue injury. Circulation also improves, as your blood flow becomes smoother and faster, bringing much needed nourishment to your muscles. This action helps muscle recovery and joint injuries
Stretching helps with lower back pain
With our increasingly sedentary lifestyles, more and more people now suffer from chronic lower back pain. By stretching, this alleviates pain and discomfort. All the various muscle groups in the body contribute to your body’s posture and by stretching, not only do you reduce back injuries, you also enable your body to gain better posture. Read more about stretching exercises to ease back pain and discomfort.
Methods on How to Stretch
There are also several methods of how to stretch as well. Depending on what you want to achieve, you can employ the various stretching methods to your workout schedule.
According to Doug Lawrenson, writer for Muscle & Strength magazine, there are seven types of common stretching methods which are Dynamic, Ballistic, active, static, passive, isometric and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF).
Isometric and PNF stretches are commonly adopted by Weight lifters and body builders.
How do these stretches help for muscle growth?
You know the usual. Just working on my stretch! Well, in the case of the isometric stretch, resistance is applied to the body and you flex your muscles to oppose this resistance without moving any parts of your body.
With the PNF method, you will apply resistance against a stationary object, relaxing the resistance in order to increase the depth of the stretch and then re-apply resistance again.
Isometric and PNF stretching is an exercise on its own and is recommended to be done if you are a pro-athlete or with proper supervision from a health instructor or gym instructor. People who are already active and have already achieved a good amount of body flexibility should only do these exercises.
For the average person, there are many other ways on how to stretch to promote muscle growth and increase your overall fitness level. These stretches can be done for those at the beginner to intermediate levels of fitness.
How to Stretch For the Average Person
Experts recommend doing major stretches after a workout or run. This will enable you to identify which muscle groups require more attention. Light activity for 5 to 10 minutes is a much better warm up before a workout or run. Find a flat surface as your stretching area. Keep in mind to hold each stretch for about 30 seconds. If there is a body part that experiences pain or discomfort, it will be good to repeat the stretch again.
These are some of the basic methods on how to stretch properly that you can do after each workout in order to help muscle growth, increase your performance, avoid any onset injuries and increase your strength. Proper post workout care is as essential as eating right when it comes to performing well in any sport you do.