What are the benefits of stretching?

Benefits Of Stretching 


Do you stretch before your workout? Do you include a cool-down stretching routine after? If not, why? Is it you do not have time, can’t be bothered, or actually don’t know how? Whether you are a beginner to exercise or an athlete, including stretching in your routine has many benefits. Let’s explore them together!  


What Is Stretching?


When are we most likely to stretch? Stretching exercises are usually done before or after a workout. Stretching keeps muscles flexible, strong and healthy which are essential for maintaining joint range of motion. Muscles shorten and become tight without it. You're more likely to suffer from joint pain and muscle damage as a result of this (1). Is there a difference between stretching and flexibility? Stretching is an exercise that can increase flexibility, which is the range of motion for the given joint that can be measured (2).  


Types Of Stretches:


Static stretches: Static stretching is the most common form of stretching which includes extending and holding muscles for a period of time. Think of standing on one leg in P.E holding your leg trying not to fall over whilst holding onto your ear.


Dynamic stretching: Is typically done before you start your workout and involves active movements that help get your muscles warmed up and ready for exercise. Walking lunges with an upper-body rotation are an example of dynamic stretches (3). 


Ballistic stretches: This intense stretching method uses bouncing movements to push your body beyond its normal range of motion. An example of ballistic stretches is bouncing to touch your toes (4).



Why Is Stretching Good For You?


Did you know that stretching can help you avoid getting injured? If you are following a fitness plan it is very important for you not to miss any workouts due to injury! Muscles that are flexible and well-stretched are less prone to injury, while muscles and connective tissues that are less flexible restrict joint movement, increasing the risk of sprains. Stretching is great and not only as part of a warm-up, but it also has a number of benefits for your health (5). Stretching may improve your posture, reduce tension and body aches. Stretching can also help to increase your flexibility, which is an essential aspect of fitness (6). 


What Are The Benefits Of Stretching Every Day?


According to research, stretching each of the major muscle groups for 60 seconds at least twice a week will improve your health. Did you know that regular stretching can help keep your hips and hamstrings supple later in life? Does your back hurt while sitting at a desk? If your posture is incorrect for example,  staying in the same position while sitting at a desk all day can cause you pain and this is where stretching comes in, as it can improve your posture and prevent back pain (7,8).


How To Start A Stretching Routine?


Stretching on a daily basis will not only help you become more flexible, but it can also help you relax. Have you ever tried Yoga? Yoga incorporates stretching and meditation techniques to improve your mental health and physical health (6).

Take it easy at first if you're new to stretching. Your body, like other forms of physical activity, needs time to adjust to the stretches you're doing (7,8).


Here at the LiveWell studio, there are Yoga and Pilates classes which can help you with posture, muscle tone, balance, and joint mobility, as well as stress and tension relief. These classes can help you increase overall strength and flexibility and lowering the risk of injury from other activities. 


Written by Performance For All - find us on Instagram @wearepfa


Written and researched by Ilektra Lampraki, Msc Marketing Student (Content Writer Performance For All)


Edited by: Sophie O’Neill - BA Creative Writing Student (Content Writer at Performance for All), Jade Mottley Sport Scientist and MSc Human Nutrition student (Head Coach at Performance For All) and Maisha Haque, Inclusion Team Leader at Performance For All.



References:


  • https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-importance-of-stretching
  • https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/stretching-and-flexibility-tips#1
  • https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/dynamic-stretching#stretches-for-warming-up
  • https://www.healthline.com/health/ballistic-stretching-it-safe#TOC_TITLE_HDR_1
  • https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Sang-Choi-7/publication/26053282_Do_Stretching_Programs_Prevent_Work-related_Musculoskeletal_Disorders/links/54b04dbf0cf2431d35334995/Do-Stretching-Programs-Prevent-Work-related-Musculoskeletal-Disorders.pdf\
  • https://www.healthline.com/health/benefits-of-stretching
  • https://www.healthline.com/health/deskercise#TOC_TITLE_HDR_1
  • https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/how-to-stretch#1
  • https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/stretching-and-strengthening-are-key-to-healing-and-preventing-back-pain
  • https://bmcmusculoskeletdisord.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2474-10-37 
  •  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3588663/
  • https://journals.lww.com/acsm-csmr/fulltext/2014/05000/The_Effects_of_Stretching_on_Performance.12.aspx
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