The Importance of Stretching

Often when someone thinks of stretching, they think of superstar athletes. A lot of office workers, or people who sit for long periods of time have tight muscles in their legs and hips, which could easily be prevented with stretching. Tight muscles make you prone to injury, and can lead to joint issues. There are many great benefits to stretching. It can also be very simple, and take little time out of your day that will help you in the long run.

If you are not very active, do not assume that stretching will not help you. As I said before, you are more prone to injuries, and joint pain (which is not fun at all!). If you think about it, you could get hurt by doing simple household tasks just because you are not flexible. Something as simple as putting socks on can be difficult! An easy thing to put into your daily routine is to stretch right before bed. You have spent all day moving around; it is a great way to finish your day. Doing a few stretches, for example, a seated hamstring stretch, a standing quad stretch, and a standing hamstring stretch will help your overall range of motion. Try not to stretch right when you wake up. Your muscles need to be warm when you stretch, not cold. If you stretch right you wake up, you are running the risk of tearing your muscle fibers, which is counterproductive. Also, always remember not to “bounce,” when stretching, this is another way of causing an injury. Here are a few examples of some simple exercises you can do right at home:

Image result for simple stretching exercises

Athletes should take stretching very seriously, yet they often don’t. Warm ups, cool downs, and stretching in general are crucial to being a good athlete and preventing injury. As important as it is to stretch, it is even more important to know what kind of stretches to do, and when. The two basic forms of stretching are dynamic and static. Static Stretching is what is pictured above. Typically you are stretching one specific muscle group for about 10-30 second while staying still. On the contrary, Dynamic Stretching is when you are doing movements specifically designed to warm up certain muscle groups without tearing the muscle fibers. Dynamic Stretching should always be done before working out/exercising. Then Static Stretching should be the final thing you do in your workout. Whether you are lifting weights, or doing an activity, a dynamic warm-up prepares your body for the task at hand. For example, if you are doing a lifting regiment, and it is “leg day,” it would be good to do some lunges for your warm-up. They are a great way to warm your legs up, so when you begin your workout, you are not putting unnecessary stress on your muscles (other than what you would be doing for your workout). Taking time to Static stretch after your workout is just as important. Stretching helps reduce the risk of cramping, reduces the risk of injury, and increases blood flow which helps prevent soreness.

Many professional athletes openly talk about how much stretching helps in their sport. Kevin Love, Power Forward for the Cleveland Cavaliers, speaks highly about how yoga has changed his life. Also, Novak Djokovic, arguably one of the greatest tennis players in history, is know all over the tour for how much time he spends stretching (as pictured below). Image result for novak djokovic stretch

Finding the time to stretch is so important when it comes to daily life. If you worked out for two hours, what’s 10 more minutes? If you get into the mindset of, “it’s only 10 minutes of my day,” instead of, “I’m not going to waste 10 minutes just to stretch,” you will find an overall increase in your well-being.

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