Stretching should be a part of every person’s daily routine, whether they are physically active or not. A common misconception about stretching is that it is only necessary for athletes, but this is not the case. Everyone needs to stretch their muscles on a daily basis.
“Stretching is one of those activities that a lot of us associate with workouts, to be done either before or after, and not something we necessarily think of as being helpful to do every day, regardless of whether or not we hit the gym.” — 9 Stretches Everyone Should Be Doing Daily
The Amazing Benefits of Stretching
You might not know this, but stretching packs a powerful punch of benefits. They include (but are not limited to):
- Decreased stress levels
- Less stiffness and pain in joints and muscles
- Improved overall health
- Increased range of motion
- Enhanced muscular function
- Lower risk of being injured
- Better sports performance
- Improved blood flow and circulation
- Less stress on joints
- Better quality of life
These benefits of stretching were mentioned by the American Counsil on Exercise.
After reading about these benefits, are you inspired to start stretching? If so, what you need are a few guidelines that will help you stretch the right way.
3 Suggestions for Stretching the Right Way
Stretching the right way protects you from injuries caused by over-extension and other factors. Here are three ways to stretch effectively and safely:
- Pay attention to pain during static stretching — A static stretch is a stretch that is held for 10-30 seconds in a somewhat challenging position. Use this type of stretching “after your workout, not before. Even doing a few static stretches at the end of a single workout will help with next-day muscle soreness so you won’t be moving like a corpse,” stated How to Stretch Properly: The Do’s and Don’ts of Stretching. When static stretching, the positions you hold should feel comfortable, even if they are challenging. If you start to feel pain, ease up on the stretch.
- Stretch to lengthen muscles — Many people have poor posture but may not know that stretching is an effective way to correct it. Wearing high heels and staying seated for long periods of time, for example, can contribute to shortening of the muscles. These specific stretches can help lengthen the muscles and promote better posture. When stretching to lengthen the muscles, take care that you don’t overextend yourself. Lengthening your muscles via stretching is a great practice, but you don’t want to injure yourself.
- Stretch slowly — One thing you should definitely avoid when stretching is moving in and out of stretches too hastily. This can be tempting when you want to get your stretches done as quickly as possible so you can move on to your exercise or get back to your day. However, stretching too abruptly can prevent injury. “If you’re injured, moving into and out of stretches slowly can alert you to your injury before you reach a point of severe pain. It can also prevent injury,” stated 9 Ways to Make Sure You’re Stretching the Right Way.
Do You Have Questions About Stretching?
Do you ever wonder if you are stretching correctly? A physiotherapist can help you determine this and design a stretching program that is tailored to your needs and will deliver the best possible results.