Why Is It So Important To Actively Stretch And Improve Flexibility?
Stretching is one of the most important components to any fitness training program. Ensuring you remain flexible in all of your joints by remaining flexible can assist you lessening your chance of injury and improve your range of motion to complete your exercises or activities of daily living.
Some people underestimate the importance and benefits of stretching on a regular basis. There are numerous benefits to stretching, such as increased range of motion, decreased muscle stiffness and prevention of certain injuries. Stretching should be performed most days of the week following all physical activity and done on a consistent basis. Choosing not to stretch on a regular basis can hinder your range of motion and lead to injuries.
As we age, we begin to experience stiffness of our joints and movements can become painful as a result of not stretching on a regular basis. Chronic stiffness can lead to limited range of motion, which can lead to improper body mechanics and injuries.
Therefore, in order to avoid these issues, use the following guidelines to stretching and make stretching a regular part of your fitness training program and daily routine.
Never stretch a cold muscle
Imagine placing a rubber band in the freezer for a period of time and then attempting to stretch it. It will not be as pliable cold as it would be at room temperature. Your muscles, ligaments and tendons are similar to a rubber band. The warmer they become, the more pliable they will be. This elasticity will help prevent injuries and increase your range of motion.
Stretch after your workout before complete cool down
Muscles need to have the ability to contract and produce force, therefore stretching too much before your workout could result in less force generated during your lifting. Stretching is used to relax and elongate the muscles, and over stretching prior to resistance training may prevent optimal performance. In order to avoid this, stretch before you reach a cool down state immediately after your training session.
Your body has protective mechanisms which detect the length and force of a stretch. If you stretch your muscles too fast or too far, the body will respond by contracting the muscles. Do not force your body to go beyond its normal range of motion by bouncing or forcing yourself into a stretched position. Forcing your body to go beyond this point can lead to injuries.
Stretch at least three days per week
Regular stretching will provide a greater range of motion to perform Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) such as grocery shopping, gardening and cleaning. Being flexible will, in addition, help you with sports-related performances and lessen chances of injury.
Follow the F.I.T.T Model For Stretching
The F.I.T.T. model below teaches you the frequency, intensity, type and time for stretching.
Frequency: At least three days per week, preferably daily and after all physical activity.
Intensity: Slow, controlled and not forced. Slowly elongate muscle with low level of force.
Type: At least 4-5 stretches per major muscle groups (legs, arms, chest, back).
Time: 15- 30 second holds (static stretching)
The following stretches can be performed after each workout. Remember each stretching guideline and do not force your body beyond its normal range of motion. Following these guidelines will assist you in creating better mobility and lessen your chance of injury! Therefore, the next time you exercise, don’t forget to stretch!