This is article is all about the importance of stretching. Personally I would reccomend stretching atleast 10 minutes 3 or more times a week, making sure you stretch all major muscle groups, such as the neck, shoulders, upper and lower back, pelvis, hips and legs.
You probably think you don't have to stretch or can't be bothered to as you may not have time, but i do urge you to make time, as stretching will greatly reduce the rik of injuring yourself.
- Enhance joint mobility
- Increase muscle length
- Increase flexibility
- Relax your muscles
Factors that will affect your flexibility at your joints:
- The type of joint-A ball and socket joint like the hip will allow for more movement thana hinge joint like the elbow
- Time of day-You are less flexible in the morning
- Your age-Flexibility usually declines with age but with if you train them reguarly the decline can be reduced or stopped.
- The temperature of the joint and tissue surrounding-The joints and muscle bcome more flexible when warm.
- Muscle relaxtion- There are some muscles which are not able to fully relax because of neural stimulation.
- Muscle tissue and tendon elasticity-Some injuries can causemuscle tissue to become tight , which causes them to become less flexible, which will lead to a decreased range of motion.
- Gender- Females are generally more flexible than males.
- Fat levels-Higher levels of fat may reduce range of motion in joints.
- Pregnancy- During pregnancy, the hormone relaxin is released, which will increasethe laxity of ligaments,which will increase flexibility.
Different types of stretches
- Static stretching - This envolves holding a limb in a set position at the end of its range of motion and holding it for time.
- Dynamic - Dynamic stretching uses a controlled movement, moving limbs in a safe range of motion.
- Ballistic - This is the fast movement of a limb to attempt to force the the limb past its normal range of motion.
- Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)- This is a stretch where you use a combination of alternating contraction and relaxation of both agonist and antagonist muscles such as the bicep and tricep.
The Benefits of Stretching
- Improved circulation - this comes from an icrease of blood flow to the muscles wich will nourish and get rid of any waste products. Also this will reduce recovery time after a workout.
- Improve posture - Regular stretching will reduce tight muscles, which will aloow correct posture.
- Decrease stress - Tight muscles often accompany stress, so stretching will will help to relax you.
- Cut down on injuries - The ability to use a full range of motion will reduce the likelihood of lower back pain and greatly reduce the amount of injuries occurred from falling.
- Increased co-ordination - A full range of motion in the joints will geatly improve your balance.
Things to consider when stretching
- Make sure your positioning during you stretches are correct
- Only stretch to a point of mild discomfort and no more
- Remember to breath throughout your stretching
- No bouncing!!!!
- Stretch both sides
Equipment that will help with your flexibility
Stretching is always something i am working on, it greatly improves my quality of life and i hope it will improve yours too. Let me know what you think of the article and what your favourite stretches are.