How to stretch properly

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Why Stretching Should Be Your Priority

“Stretching: It’s more than just an activity to get your body ready for a workout. It’s a fundamental part of improving your fitness.”

Stretching is often overlooked, but it’s an essential part of any workout routine. It serves multiple purposes, all of which contribute to your overall health and athletic performance. Here are some of the key benefits:

  • Increases Flexibility: Stretching helps lengthen your muscles and increase your range of motion. This enhancement in flexibility aids in performance and reduces the risk of injuries.
  • Relieves Muscle Tension: Stretching can help alleviate muscle tightness and tension. It’s a great way to release stress and promote relaxation.
  • Enhances Blood Circulation: Regular stretching improves circulation, ensuring that your muscles are well-nourished and that waste products are removed efficiently.
  • Improves Posture: It helps correct misalignments in the body, leading to improved posture and reduced back pain.

Different Types of Stretching

Knowing how to stretch properly is half the battle. There are several types of stretching techniques, each with its own benefits and uses. Let’s take a closer look at each type:

Static Stretching

Static stretching involves holding a stretch for an extended period. It’s a popular type of stretching that is generally safe and effective for improving overall flexibility. Static stretching is best done after your workout as it helps to cool down the body and enhance muscle recovery.

Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretching is a form of active movement that isn’t about holding a stretch but rather taking your body through ranges of motion that will better prepare you for your workout or sporting activity. It’s ideal to include dynamic stretching in your warm-up routine to prepare your muscles.

Ballistic Stretching

Ballistic stretching uses the momentum of your body or a limb in an attempt to force it beyond its normal range of motion. This type of stretching is generally not recommended for most people as it can lead to muscle strain or injury.

Active Isolated Stretching

Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) involves contracting the opposite muscle that you want to stretch. This form of stretching is useful for athletes as it allows for deep, specific, and safe stretching.

Integrating Stretching Into Your Routine

Now that you know the benefits of stretching and the different stretching techniques, it’s time to put that knowledge into action. Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast, a professional athlete, or a sports coach, it’s essential to integrate a proper full-body stretching routine into your schedule.

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Descriptive Guide on How To Stretch Properly

Proper stretching can enhance your physical performance, reduce injury risk, and promote overall well-being. Let’s delve into the different types of stretches to ensure your body is optimally primed for any activity.

Neck Stretch

To do a proper neck stretch, stand straight and slowly lower your right ear towards your right shoulder until you feel a stretch on the left side of your neck. Hold for 15-30 seconds, then switch to the other side.

Shoulder Stretch

Start by standing straight, then pull one arm across your body and use your opposite arm to press it closer to your chest. Hold this position for 15-30 seconds, then switch arms.

Arm Stretch

To stretch your arms, extend one arm straight in front of you, then use your other hand to gently pull your fingers back towards your body until you feel a stretch in your forearm.

Leg Stretch

For leg stretches, place one foot in front of the other and bend the front knee while keeping the back leg straight. Lean forward slightly until you feel a stretch in your back leg’s calf muscle.

Back Stretch

Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Twist your torso to one side and hold onto the back of the chair for support. Hold for 15-30 seconds, then switch sides.

Ankle and Foot Stretch

While seated, extend one leg out straight. Point and flex your foot repeatedly, feeling the stretch in your ankle and the top of your foot.

Tips on Safe Stretching

Warm-Up Before Stretching

Always warm-up before starting your stretching routine. A warm-up increases your body temperature, making your muscles more pliable and less prone to injury.

Maintaining Stability

Maintain stability while stretching by focusing on your breathing and engaging your core muscles. This will help prevent accidental injury.

Avoid Bouncing

Avoid bouncing while stretching as it can cause small tears in the muscle, leading to scar tissue which tightens the muscle further.

Stretch Both Sides Equally

It’s important to stretch both sides of your body equally to maintain a balanced level of flexibility and muscle health.

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The Importance of Professional Guidance in Stretching and Fitness

While understanding the different types of stretches and their benefits is crucial, having professional guidance can significantly enhance your stretching and fitness journey. A personal trainer or a fitness expert can provide tailored advice and routines that align with your specific goals and physical condition. They can help you:

  • Develop a Customized Stretching Routine: Based on your body type, fitness level, and goals, a personal trainer can create a stretching routine that maximizes effectiveness and minimizes the risk of injury.
  • Ensure Proper Technique: Incorrect stretching techniques can do more harm than good. A personal trainer ensures that you perform each stretch correctly, getting the most out of your routine.
  • Stay Motivated and Consistent: Regular sessions with a personal trainer can keep you motivated and accountable, ensuring that stretching remains a consistent part of your fitness regimen.
  • Address Specific Needs: Whether you’re recovering from an injury, looking to enhance athletic performance, or simply aiming to improve flexibility, a personal trainer can tailor your stretching routine to address your specific needs.


The Dos and Don’ts of Stretching

Time Management for Stretching

Set aside ample time for a proper stretching routine. Rushing through stretches can lead to improper form and potential injury.

Pre and Post Workout Stretches

Stretch both before and after workouts. Pre-workout stretches prepare your body for exercise, while post-workout stretches help to cool down your body and reduce muscle stiffness.

Ignoring Pain

Never ignore pain during stretching. If a stretch causes pain, you may be pushing too hard or performing it incorrectly.

Intensity of Stretching

Moderate the intensity of your stretches. Stretching should never be forced or cause extreme discomfort. Remember, the aim is to feel a gentle pull, not pain.

By |November 3rd, 2023|Uncategorised|Comments Off on How to stretch properly

About the Author:

Anthony Grande has been a Registered Physiotherapist since 1996. His desire to help people recover from their injuries pushed him to provide better care and get involved in professional and government organizations, where he gained the opportunity to be part of roundtables with Ministers and their staff. He specializes in medical acupuncture, sports injury recovery, and stroke and traumatic brain injury rehabilitation. Anthony devotes his personal time to his family, animal welfare, and social entrepreneurship.