Stretching is just as important as training, nutrition and recovery. Let’s also not fail to mention that this is one of the best ways to avoid injuries. This is why I often “stalk” others at the gym in order to appreciate their unique stretching routines. Still, I have no problem performing my “rookie” calisthenics outdoors or training with nothing more than kettlebells.
I have also adopted stretching as a part of my daily routine; normally in conjunction with my morning breathing exercises. Not only am I able to fill my mind with positive thoughts to get me through the day, but the entire regimen takes no longer than 12 minutes to complete. This is why I felt compelled to list some of the most profound and long-lasting effects associated with stretching so that you can enjoy the same health benefits which I currently experience. Let’s take a closer look.
It should already be obvious that stretching will have a profound effect upon flexibility levels. The good news is that more is better. Those who stretch on a regular basis will become more agile and as a result, they are naturally more flexible.
Another benefit is that stretching can help to improve your posture (an increasingly common problem in this day and age). This arises from the fact that stretching strengthens your core muscle groups and encourages proper alignment. If you have been slouching or should you suffer from lower back pain, the solution is clear.
Stretching helps to prepare your muscles for any type of physical exercise. It increases blood flow and hydrostatic pressure. Muscles which have become “warmed up” are much less likely to become strained or torn. This is critical if you are hoping to avoid potentially frustrating injuries.
Nutrient Delivery and Absorption
Stretching also increases the amount of nutrients provided to the muscles thanks to the blood flow benefits mentioned above. Not only will this provide your body with the fuel that it requires to perform at its peak, but stretching can also help to reduce soreness after a gruelling training session.
The Surprising Role of Psychology
Similar to meditation, stretching is a great way to provide your mind with a “break” from daily life. Thanks in part to the increased blood flow to the brain as well as the focus required to perform movements properly, you will be able to enjoy a centred and peaceful mindset.
Decreased Perceived Tension
Mental stress can often be manifested in muscular tension. This is a defensive strategy sometimes referred to as the “fight-or-flight” response. You will be happy to learn that regularly stretching will help to release this form of tension; offering another potent form of stress management.
Increased Energy Levels
Thanks to the blood and nutrients that are circulated throughout your body, stretching will likewise help you to feel more refreshed. If you have been suffering from malaise or a lack of motivation, stretching is a great habit to adopt.
Tips and Tricks to Keep in Mind
It is a good idea to separate myth from reality, so I have decided to highlight a handful of suggestions to follow in order to get the most out of your next stretching session.
Not Necessarily a Warm-Up Activity
Contrary to popular belief, stretching immediately before a workout is not necessarily the best option. As muscles are cold and tight, they are more prone to injuries. It is better to stretch out after a small bout of physical activity (such as a short walk or a ten-minute jogging session). You can then commence with your normal routine.
Focus on Tense Muscles
Tense muscles tend to result from stress and soreness. This is why you should devote attention to these areas of the body before moving on. If these muscles are properly stretched, they will become loose and any soreness will begin to dissipate.
This is sometimes referred to as “ballistic stretching” and it can actually cause slight tears which result in the formation of scar tissue. As a result, you are likely to become even more sore and tense. Try to hold a specific stretch for between 15 seconds and one minute. Of course, this depends upon the soreness of the muscle in question and what muscle you are focusing on.
The great thing about stretching is that it is not a time-consuming activity. I recommend stretching at least ten minutes per day and two to three times each week. It is also best to set up a set routine, as irregularity will make it difficult for your body to adapt its range of motion.
Make it a point to adopt the proper techniques from the very beginning. This is the best way to prevent any future issues. If you have recently injured a muscle, do not make the condition worse by pushing too much. Should you feel a sharp pain, ease up with the intensity of the stretch in order to avoid a further strain.
Above all, make it a point to adhere to your stretching routine. The more you stretch, the more benefits your body and mind can enjoy. Taking a short break to perform such a programme is a great way to become centred and to avoid any future physical issues.