(BeWellBuzz) Stretching plays a vital role in our regular exercise routine. You may think that stretching needs to be done only if you have some extra minutes before or after running out your miles on the treadmill, but the fact is – stretching is an essential part of your daily workout.
Stretching can help increase flexibility, thus, improving your performance in physical activities and reducing the risk of injuries by assisting your joints in moving through their full range of action. One example is the Achilles tendon – it is stiff and lacks flexibility. If you do a lot of mountain walking, your foot may not move smoothly. If this continues, this can increase the risk of swelling or injuring your tendon. Stretching your foot may increase the range of motion in your ankle. This will in turn help in reducing the risk of stress on your tendon.
Stretching before exercise prepares your muscles. On the other hand, stretching after a workout helps your muscles relax after a strenuous activity.
Before you decide to start stretching, make sure you do it safely and efficiently. Though you can stretch anytime or anywhere, you need to make sure that you use the proper technique.
Many people still don’t know how beneficial it is to stretch body before and after a workout. The good thing is – if you have a basic understanding of stretching, you can do the stretching exercises correctly without any supervision.
While stretching, you need to be careful about a few things:
- Stress on muscle groups. When stretching, lay emphasis on your thighs, hips, lower back, neck, and shoulders. Stretching muscles and joints is beneficial to relieve the tension you get from work/play. For instance, Soccer players stretch more of their legs than their arms, for obvious reasons.
- Don’t look for pain. Expect to feel the strain while you’re stretching, not pain. If it hurts, your muscles are being stressed too far. Therefore, avoid putting more stress on that same area.
- Don’t consider stretching a warm-up. You may injure yourself if you stretch cold muscles. Before stretching, you must warm up your body with a light walk or jog. When biking, do a less intense session for five to seven minutes before doing your usual rounds.
- Do stretching after exercising: It’s best to do stretching after your usual work-out session while your muscles are still warm.
- Keep up with your stretching: Stretching can be time consuming, but their results and its benefits are more evident by stretching regularly, at least two to three times a week. If not done properly, you risk losing the benefits that stretching may offer.
- Know when to exercise caution: Practice stretching with caution. If you have a severe injury, you may need to plan on adjusting your stretching techniques. Obviously, stretching a strained muscle may cause further damage.
Here are 5 stretching exercises:
1. Lateral Neck Flexion Stretch:
Move your head to one side and then to the other side. This stretching exercise can be extremely beneficial for people who suffer from tight and aching muscles in the upper back and neck.
2. Shoulder Rotator Stretch:
Using a towel, pull up with the top arm and then down with the other. Stretching the shoulder opens up chest muscles, rotates your shoulder relieving any pain. This can also help in improving posture.
3. Thoracic Extension Stretch:
First reach forward with arms, you’re your chest towards floor, arch back down and backside behind knees. Stretching the muscles of the lower back this way can provide relief to back pain sufferers.
4. Lumbar Rotation Stretch:
First rotate legs one side, then the other side. Draw in and brace stomach muscles at the same time and then breathe. Stretching the buttocks can be great for reducing symptoms of sciatica.
5. Hamstring Stretch:
Start with knee slightly bent, then push knee straight as tension allows and then push chest towards foot. This helps in strengthening the hamstring and adding more flexibility to the leg.
You can also buy stretching band to help you stretch deeper and support both static and dynamic stretching.
Stretching For Sedentary Lifestyle
Stretching is particularly helpful to cope with all the health problems caused by sedentary lifestyle, such as obesity and arthritis. It can make your muscles stronger, improve blood circulation, and help to de-stress. So, even if you don’t work out or have been sitting all day at your desk job, stretching is very beneficial.
For people who are on the computer all day, here are a couple of quick stretching exercises for wrists and fingers:
- Artisan’s Finger Stretch: The exercise begins with the hand open, and the wrist and fingers in forceful extension.
- Finger Extension Stretch: This exercise is a self-stretch passive movement for inactivating trigger points and relieving tension in the hand and finger flexor muscles. The right forearm under stretch is well supported and relaxed.
Stretching may be beneficial, but remember not to overdo it. Remember that strain is normal when stretching, pain is not. If you are experiencing pain, then you’re not stretching correctly. Do this right and enjoy the tradition of stretching.