Most athletes know that stretching is an important part of any exercise routine. However, a staggering number of people either don’t stretch enough or stretch improperly. Not doing the right kinds of stretching can lead to decreased athletic performance and even injury, so knowing what you should be doing and when you should be doing it is very important to keep your body in peak condition.
Stretching has benefits for everyone. Doing proper stretches before and after a workout can help loosen tight muscles and improve your flexibility and range of motion. It can also greatly reduce your risk of injury during athletic activities and promote fast and healthy healing of the muscle. Stretching also boosts blood flow and delivers nutrients to your muscles, making it great for anyone, regardless of age or physical activity level.
Whether you are a seasoned athlete, someone who doesn’t work out at all or someone being coached by a personal fitness trainer in Phoenix, AZ, you need to know the basics of stretching and how to do it effectively to maximize your body’s abilities.
There are different types of stretching
There are two major types of stretching: dynamic and static. These types of stretches are ideal for different things, and it’s important to do the right kind of stretch at the right time, otherwise you risk decreasing power and flexibility during your workout.
The first type, dynamic stretching, involves doing a series of slow movements. You’ll want to focus on stretching the muscles you’ll need to use during your workout, so stretch the muscles in your legs if you’re planning to run, or do arm swings and chest openings for upper body strength training.
Dynamic stretches are the stretches you want to do before a workout because they’ll get your blood moving and help your body prepare for more rigorous activity. However, dynamic stretching should not be considered a warm-up itself. You should always do a warm-up like walking before stretching to avoid stretching cold muscles and getting injured.
The second type of stretching is the one people are most familiar with: static stretching. These stretches are held in one place and apply force to a particular muscle for up to 30 seconds at a time.
Static stretches should be done after a workout is complete—avoid doing them before, because holding muscles in this way can tire them out and actually hinder athletic performance. You’ll be more flexible after exercising because your joints and muscles will have been moving, allowing you to get deeper, more restorative stretches.
Additionally, stretching doesn’t have to be limited to exercise. You can—and should—stretch after waking up in the morning, before bed and as part of meditative practices like yoga. Stretching is a great way to relieve stress, as well, because your body’s muscles contract during stressful periods. This contraction can be relieved through stretching, which can make your body and mind feel better.
Other stretching tips
Remember to always listen to your body and never push a stretch farther than what feels okay. It’s okay for a stretch to feel a little uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t be extremely painful. If it hurts, ease up or stop and move on to a stretch in another part of your body.
Also, remember to breathe. Deep breathing during your stretches can help the body relax and allow you to stretch further, greatly improving flexibility and promoting healing.
As a personal fitness trainer in Phoenix, AZ, Pamela Young Fitness offers individuals the chance to reach their fitness goals in a group personal training setting. We tend to each individual’s goals and needs through our variety of fitness classes, including boot camps and corrective exercise training. Visit us today to see how our personal training can make a difference in your fitness journey.