Why is stretching important?
Stretching is a form of physical exercise in which a muscle or muscle group is moderately flexed. Typically before, during or after exercise. This allows muscle tissue to lengthen which holds many benefits to an individual.
Why should you stretch?
Injury Prevention – Stretching helps to prevent possible muscle damage such as strains and sprains. By warming a muscle up and elongating it through performing holds over time this will allow muscle fibres to release stress and improve elasticity, more strenuous exercises can then be carried out with a much-lessened risk of injury.
Performance – Participants in exercise may choose to perform stretches in order to improve performance. When exercising, muscles will contract and relax, by stretching before exercise circulation of blood to the active muscles is improved, increasing the supply of nutrients which aids with recovery and the ability to perform more vigorously for longer.
Range of motion – Closely linked to performance, stretching before exercise helps muscles become more pliable. The muscle can then achieve a greater range of motion aiding in effective sporting performance.
Cooldown – After performing the exercise, it is important that the body is given adequate time to recover. Stretching can be used in order to help bring the heart rate down gradually, this is often used for participants comfort in relieving aches and pains as well as previously mentioned prevention of injury while getting blood back into a muscle that has been put under stress.
Types of Stretching
Static stretching – This is a form of stretching where a participant holds a position for typical 30 – 60 seconds, allowing muscles to become elasticised, research suggests that the application of this method of stretching and doing it for long periods of time can hinder the muscle’s performance before exercise as it is being put under a period of strain
Dynamic Stretching – Usually performed for no longer than a few seconds, this allows the muscle to increase in length without suffering fatigue. Performed incorrectly or too rigorously, this can cause injury.
Ballistic Stretching – Sometimes considered a controversial method of stretching, this form of stretching uses quick and dynamic movements in order to warm up muscles and can put strain on muscles before they are warmed up, causing possible injury.
Stretching and Wellbeing
Not only does research highlight the importance of stretching for sports performers but also for an individual in everyday life. Everyday activities such as sitting at a desk for long periods of time can contribute to tight hamstrings due to not being active. This will then inhibit walking. Injured or damaged muscles can then not support tendons and ligaments and can cause injury.
Muscles can hold a lot of tension after exercise when beginning the day or at the end of a day where a person has been physically active. By performing stretches, this will help a person feel less stressed which helps mental wellbeing
Doctors or physios may also give patients a daily stretching routine to perform as a result of medical conditions. This can help lessen the impact of the condition or simply aid the individual to live life without any discomfort.