Stretching and flexibility – the why and how!

Stretching and flexibility – the why and how!

Stretching should be the mantra to recovery for a runner, a bodybuilder, a gym enthusiast, a sports player and a recreational walker. I have seen too many discrepancies in stretching which eventually lead to overuse injuries of muscles and joints. Either one doesn’t stretch at all, or not enough or stretches incorrectly. Often people ask me why to stretch and the right way to do them. Here’s why. A static stretch is one where there is little or no movement as the controlled stretch position is maintained for about 30 seconds, then sometimes repeated. Inherent to the practice of yoga, physiologically this type of stretch has been termed ‘a form of viscoelastic myofascial release’. Put simply, muscles and their associated fascia begin to lengthen slowly in response to a gentle and continuous load. In therapeutic terms, this physiological response is a property of muscle and fascia known as ‘creep’. The fact that the load applied is constant and gentle is key to the effectiveness of active stretching.  Static stretching post workouts can dramatically reduce the chance of overuse and other injuries as well as assist with DOMS- delayed onset muscle soreness. Static stretches also relax your muscles and calm your nervous system.

 

Below are the static stretches to be done after your workout, during your cool-down period.

Guidelines:

Never bounce when you do static stretching

Once you have initiated a static stretch, hold it until you feel the muscle relax (usually about 20-30 seconds)

Remember to breathe while you are stretching or activating

If you are new to static stretching, make sure you get instruction on how to do it properly

The major mistakes I find people do while stretching is that they tend to bounce and do not hold for the amount of time required for a muscle to relax and lengthen. They are wasting their time. I tell them to do it correctly or not at all.


Chest Stretch
– Stand tall, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold your arms out to the side parallel with the ground and the palms of the hand facing forward. Stretch the arms back as far as possible. You should feel the stretch across your chest.

 

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