Stretching is an essential part of every workout that we sometimes ignore. We tend to jump right into the exercises, which leaves us more prone to injuries. A solid ten-minute stretch not only reduces the risks of injuries but also boosts up the performance in the gym or on the track.
Here are some tips to follow for stretching before and after working out to get the best out of your exercise.
1. Warm-up first
Warming up is not the same as stretching, but they are generally considered to be the same. Stretching lengthens your muscles and increases your range of motion while warming up works up the muscles before starting to exercise. You should always warm up your muscles with easy exercises before you begin stretching. Muscles stretch much better and more easily when they are warm.
2. Pay Attention to Posture and Duration of Stretch
Maintaining a good posture for a stretch is just as important as it is for regular exercises. It leads to improved flexibility and decreases the likelihood of getting injured while stretching the muscle.
Always pay special attention to the duration of the stretch – do not hold a stretch too long. Start with holding the stretch for 10 seconds, gradually increasing the duration.
3. Focus on the Stretched Muscle
Focusing on the muscle can help create a connection between your mind and the muscle. This connection, in turn, aids in providing a better stretch to the muscle.
4. Breathe and be Relaxed
Loosen your body and relax before stretching. Stretching is not very effective when your muscles are tense. Also, focus on your breathing pattern while stretching because it improves the quality of stretch your muscles get.
5. Be Gentle
Be careful with your muscles. Overstretching can lead to muscle fiber rupture and other injuries. A good rule of thumb is not to exceed the stretch beyond the point where you feel pain. Stretch to the point of resistance, not pain.
6. Stretch Daily
Whether you are going to work out or not, stretch every day to experience massive improvements in your flexibility and movement. The best way to get all the benefits of stretching is to be consistent with it.
7. Do Not Bounce
It is not recommended to do ballistic or bouncing style stretching, especially if you are a beginner. Instead, always try to be gentle and avoid overstretching or stretching too fast.
Why is Stretching Important?
Stretching is a natural, intrinsic behavior instilled in us. The first thing we do after a long nap or a long period of working is extending our arms overhead and stretching our muscles from head to toes.
Stretching improves your athletic performance and flexibility. It also leads to improved posture, prevents back pains, and helps relieve stress.