Training programs have various goals: strength, endurance and speed. However, two often underplayed factors that play a key role in ensuring that these goals are attained is stretching and flexibility. Today's blog post will concentrate on why it is important, when it should be done and what techniques may be used. Enjoy the read.
Why is stretching and flexibility important?
Stretching is normally done to avert injury and reduce muscle soreness. When it comes to stretching, there are times where athletes choose the wrong ones or use an incorrect technique. This could worsen an injury, rather than prevent it. When done properly, stretching can do more than improve flexibility. It enhances physical fitness, improves mental and physical relaxation and improves suppleness.
Flexibility, on the other hand, is important for more than just injury prevention. It is required to perform daily movements with relative ease. It helps with improving strength and size, and goes hand in hand with full range of motion (ROM) exercises. Flexibility improves performance in sport, aerobic training and muscular conditioning.
When should I stretch?
There are generally two schools of thought when it comes to the best time to stretch:
Originally, static stretches were recommended before a workout. Static stretching is a technique used in flexibility training that involves taking a specific joint (or set of joints) through a ROM to a comfortable end point, holding it for at least 20 seconds, resting for the same period and then repeating the stretch two or three times. The aim of this recommendation was to warm up the muscles.
On the contrary, recent studies have shown that this type of stretching may actually inhibit performance. Nowadays foam rolling is recommended to get the muscles more supple. Dynamic stretching is used as a warm up before a workout and static stretching is left for after. Dynamic stretching is a technique used in flexibility training that employs increasingly dynamic movements through the full ROM of a joint. Dynamic stretching warms up the joint, maintains flexibility and decreases muscular tension.
How should I stretch?
Follow these guidelines when performing stretching and flexibility training:
Know your limits. Don't exceed them.
Breathe. Relaxation is enhanced when exhaling as the muscle lengthens.
Focus on all muscle groups.
Work with warm muscles.
The video below incorporates the aforementioned techniques and helps to put these to practice. Happy stretching!
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Also be on the lookout for our next blog: Muscular Pain - Good vs Bad.
Until then, cheers!