So there are three types athletes…
Those who stretch, those who think they stretch, and those who simply don’t. So what happens if you don’t stretch, not much…right away. At first you will feel fine, you will be lifting, doing cardio, losing weight, eating less junk food, feeling like you are on top of the world. You think “I’m invincible” until you wake up one day and your hamstrings feel a bit tight, or maybe it’s your lower back, you stretch it out a bit to ease the pain but it doesn’t budge. You continue training and working out and the pain lingers. Boy, do you wish that you properly stretched now. So as you may have guessed, this post is here to reintroduce stretching to your lives. If you’re like me, stretching is a tedious and fleeting afterthought. We are all so focused on getting our bodies in the best shape of our lives that we generally overlook the importance of stretching. It is too easy to do this, but stretching IS worth our time and I’m sure I don’t need to tell you all about the benefits of stretching and how it goes far beyond just preventing pulled muscles and injuries, but I’m going to do it anyways.
I want to emphasize how important it is to properly stretch. Some people say they stretch and more often than not they just end up moving a little to the right and then a little to the left and call that “stretching”.
So how does one properly stretch?
So you first need to figure out which muscle groups commonly cause pain or tightness. This is not the same for everyone, for some people it is their shoulders, for others it’s their legs. A rule of thumb would be if it is not tight or causing any pain or tension, it does not necessarily need to be stretched. As you begin to familiarize yourself with the target muscle groups begin to balance out the flexibility training between the front and back of your body as well as the right and left side of your body. The goal is to have every part of your body feeling even and relaxed. People generally say to stretch after a cardio or strength training session as a way to keep your body limber. The thing people should consider when stretching is to keep it interesting, you don’t have to do the same exact stretches everyday nor should you. Adding variety will keep it from being monotonous and also will allow every muscle group increase flexibility.
Types of Stretches
There are two types of stretching: dynamic stretching which is great for warming up before a workout and the other is static and passive stretching which is utilized more during the cool down after a workout. When doing passive and static stretches, make sure to hold the stretch for longer than 10 seconds. You should hold each stretch for 30-60 seconds and repeat it two or three times to see or feel any real improvements regarding flexibility.
Why should you care?
It’s more than just being flexible, stretching keeps your body pain free, your muscles relaxed, and your mind at ease. I know I have been boring you with a bunch of facts and figures about stretching and it is just because I care. A 10-15 minute stretch session is all it really takes to reap all the benefits related to stretching.