The aim of stretching is to gently lengthen muscles before and after any form of exercise, and to improve tissue elasticity/flexibility. If practiced properly, stretching will help prevent injuries and increase athletic performance.
The following key points should be remembered while stretching:
- Begin with gradual mobility exercises of all joints: simply rotate the wrists, bend the arm and roll your shoulders. This will allow the body’s natural lubrication (synovial fluid) to protect the surface of your bones at these joints. When you’re first starting out, you may not be able to stretch your joints very far. Don’t push it or you may end up damaging your tendons, ligaments or muscles
- After exercise, slowly bring your heart rate down before you begin stretching in order to avoid blood pooling within your muscles, which can lead to cramp and dizziness.
- If you’re wet and sweaty, take a bath or shower then stretch, as the hot water will help relax the muscles, and prevent you from catching a chill.
- Never bounce while you stretch, unless you are doing specific stretches for certain sports.
- Hold the stretch until you feel the muscle relaxed, then repeat for another 15 seconds.
- While stretching you should feel some slight discomfort, if you don’t feel anything, then you may be doing the stretch incorrectly.
- Stop immediately if you feel any severe pain.
- Remember to breathe regularly and rhythmically, do not hold your breath.
- Match stretches to exercise. If you’re a dancer, make sure that your legs and ankles have been gently stretched; if you lift weights, stretch your arms and legs.
- Accommodate your history. If you’ve had a previous injury, make sure that your stretches accommodate rather than exacerbate it. Your doctor or a sports medicine practitioner can help you to finding the right stretches and will often have handouts showing you how to perform them.
- Stretch with a buddy. Use each other for resistance, but be gentle.
- Remember there is always another way to stretch the same muscle. So don’t let yourself get bored.
- Find a body position that is comfortable for you. If the exercise is uncomfortable, select an alternative variation that stretches the same muscle groups, or modify the stretch.
- Use a chair or wall for support if necessary.
Here is a video for beginners with the personal trainer Erzsi Pongo on how to stretch before the workout, but there is also Stretching For Dummies(Health & Fitness) which will teach you how to establish a stretching routine, warm up and cool down, stretch for specific activities, prevent athletic injury or relieve computer-desk stress.
Now go stretch and start working that body!
RSS Trackback URL 18. February 2007 (11:14)
Filed under: Fitness, Tips by Nessie