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Home » Exercises, Health

The Proper Way To Stretch

Submitted by on March 11, 2009 – 11:20 pm2 Comments

cheetahThere are many ways to stretch and most of these ways are wrong. All to often people will under stretch, over stretch, or just not stretch at all. When you stretch you have to find balance points in your muscles, if opposing muscles are not in sync with each other this will throw off your balance and can increase risk of injury and limit your performance. 

When To Stretch

When stretching for a sport or workout it should be done just before you engage in the physical activity your participating in.It’s also wise to do so after you’ve done a light warm up to get the blood pumping. Only stretch muscles that are tight otherwise you may throw off the balance in certain muscle groups. If you are pressed for time during a stretching session it is much more productive to stretch one muscle fully rather that a quick touch on all of the muscle groups. 

If you are stretching because you have pain or bad posture the best time will be right before you go to bed. Stretching will not only give you a better night sleep, but muscles fibers recover fastest and most effect when your body is at rest. Stretching in the morning is also very beneficial, it will not give you the best results for lengthening muscle tissue but it will help to get your blood flowing and wake you up with more energy for the day. 

Ways To Stretch

The best way to stretch for a physical activity is dynamic stretching. You do not hold this type of stretch but rather perform a motion that you will be doing during the activity. When doing this type of stretch do not use your own momentum to increase your range of motion. Start from a stationary position and lift or swing (depending on the stretch) to your maximum range of motion then reset. This will reduce your chances of over stretching a muscle and keep your muscles in sync with each other.

Static stretching is done after your workout or before you go to bed. This stretch will loosen tight muscles and help to get your body back to balance. Stretches should be held for 45 seconds to a minute. When doing static stretching you should never feel pain and don’t swing into a stretch. Always ease your way down so you don’t pull a muscle by reaching to far to fast. Before you start your stretching make sure you know which muscles need to be loosened and which don’t. Stretch the muscle group for as many sets as it take to no longer feel a pulling sensation when you reach for the stretch, when this is gone you will begin to over stretch your muscle and will take more time to repair the tissue.

Switching Up Your Stretches

After doing a particular stretch for so long you will have reached your natural balance point and no longer need to increase your range of motion. This doesn’t mean you should stop stretching but rather change the stretch to target a different muscle or a different section of that muscle. If you stop stretching your muscles will begin to shorten and bring back the familiar  aches and pains you once had. By changing your stretches this will keep your body and posture in balance and also keep some variety in your stretches.

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