Stretching is one of the most important, if not an essential part of any exercise program or sport. Unfortunately, it is one of those things that’s easily overlooked when it comes to working out. Maybe it’s because it only takes a few minutes, so you easily brush it off. Or, perhaps it’s because you don’t “see” the stretching results why you don’t take it seriously enough. Before I explain more, I want to break down the two different types of stretching. The stretching you should do before exercise is called Dynamic stretching, which are active movements where joints and muscles go through a full range of motion, the keyword being “ active”. The stretching you should do after exercising is called Static stretching. This type involves stretches that you hold in place for some time without movement, allowing your muscles to loosen up, while increasing flexibility and range of motion. Dynamic stretching is good to warm up the entire body and increase blood flow and oxygen to the muscles. Static stretching is good afterward because it gives time to relax and reduce soreness. For example, lifting weights causes the muscles to shorten, so stretching after a workout is necessary to lengthen the muscles. Also stretching is important even outside the gym.
When you’re not at the gym, stretching helps improve posture by lengthening tight muscles (often compromised by using computers and Smartphones). Keep your spine in alignment by stretching hunched shoulders and tight chest and lower back muscles. If you find yourself getting sleepy or losing focus while sitting for a long time, it’s time to get up and stretch. A quick stretching session can help to boost your energy by getting the blood flowing and improving concentration. Here are some tips: Hold each stretch when you first feel resistance, then inhale and exhale as you stretch deeper. If a stretch seems too harsh to do, modify and adjust your position by performing the same stretch standing up or sitting down. Importantly, don’t bounce to get a deeper or better stretch. And remember, stretching is supposed to prevent injuries, not produce them!
So now, please get up and do some stretching to unlock that hidden energy. Feel better and challenge yourself to do it daily.