Why is stretching so important?
You don’t have to be a personal trainer to understand that stretching is important for everyone. Stretching will keep your muscles supple, flexible and strong throughout your life as well as speeding up recovery, improving posture, range of movement and reducing risk of injury.
Let's take a closer look at why it's so important!
Over time, our muscles become shorter and tighter from our day to day posture. This means the chest muscle become shorter and tighter whilst the back muscles become weaker and longer resulting in hyperkyphosis, more commonly known as desk posture. Adaptive shortening becomes worse over time, the tighter the muscles, the harder it is to lengthen them again! To read more about improving your posture click here
Increase range of movement
This follows on from posture, working towards a full range of movement in the muscles and joints will allow you to maintain proper exercise techniques more easily. Moving through a greater range of movement will also make your workouts more effective and time spent more efficiently.
Reduce the risk of injury
Tight muscles lead to injuries by pulling you out of alignment when exercising, which can over time cause repetitive strain injuries, or worse a full muscle tear! Flexible muscles will allow for proper movement patterns and will take a considerable amount more tension if overstretched.
As we get older our muscles naturally lose their suppleness and flexibility. This can lead to poor mobility in later life as well as poor posture which compounds the problem. Regular stretching, Pilates or yoga will help combat this.
Start recovery process
Stretching after a workout will start the recovery process by stimulating blood flow to the area, providing nutrient-rich blood as well as washing away waste materials like lactic acid.
If you'd like to learn more about how you can start your recovery process click here to read about what supplements you should be taking to build muscle!
During training your body has a heightened level of stress, stimulating your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) whereas stretching stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) meaning that you need to cool down and stretch after exercise to transfer from fight or flight into rest and digest mode before you carry on with your day! Not only that but stretching releases the stress carried in your tight muscles.
Different types of stretches
There are loads of different types of stretches, here's a few and what they are..
Using movements to stretch and mobilise the body is typically known as dynamic stretching- this is a great way to warm up the muscles and prime the body for exercise-specific movements. The most well known dynamic stretch is probably the world’s greatest stretch:
The typical post-workout/exercise stretches consist of static stretches like the classic hamstring stretch or quad stretch. Static stretching helps lengthen the muscles after repetitive contractions during training and counteracts any adaptive shortening of particular muscles like the chest or hamstrings.
This is where a Personal Trainer comes in; assisted stretching uses external force to lengthen the muscles through their end ranges to increase their range of movement. This is particularly useful on a basic level because you’re forced to stretch further and for longer than you might do by yourself!
Here’s an example of the assisted stretch we give to our clients:
This is an advanced type of stretching, which stands for proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation. This type of stretching will also require a partner or personal trainer to help apply external force to your stretches after a period of isometric contraction in specific muscles. Think tense, relax, stretch, tense, relax, stretch and so on.. this is particularly effective at elongating shortened muscles and returning them to their full length.
Where to start..
The easiest way to start is with a few static or dynamic stretches- these are the easiest to do by yourself. Once you've mastered the basic stretches you can start to look for more advanced options. And watch out for our stretching guide coming in 2022!
To get you started, you can try out this lower body stretch routine!
Don't forget, if you need more help or advice, you can book a free trial session to discuss your flexibility and mobility goals with one of our Personal Trainers!
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Check out our Private Personal Training Studio on the Hove end of Shoreham Port (Unit 13, Hove Enterprise Centre, Shoreham Port, BN411UY)https://www.portsidepersonaltraining.com/winpt