When it comes to working out, research suggests stretching reduces the risk of injury as well as helping to improve performance. According to healthytop10s.com, stretching improves your flexibility which allows the joints to move in a full motion. In other words, how far you will move, bend or twist will largely be determined by how much you stretch before a workout.
There are different types of stretches ranging from the static stretch; which involves pushing a muscle or joint to the point of discomfort and holding on to that position for a while. There is also the Dynamic Stretch, Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, and the Ballistic or bouncing stretches.
What happens when we stretch?
The exact mechanics of what happens when we stretch might not be fully clear but one thing for sure is that you will experience increased flexibility as your muscles will become supple and the nervous system will be retrained on tolerating stretching further. There is a caveat though as flexibility from regular stretching will disappear once you stop stretching.
The amount of flexibility you need depends on your activity. A gymnast will need a different stretch warm up than a ballet dancer. To generate enough power during your exercises, the muscles and tendons need to release energy at the appropriate time – this means the flexibility must not be too much as this may reduce the muscle’s natural spring and be detrimental to activities that involve a huge amount of power flowing from the heels such as running or football.
Here are a couple of reasons why you should stretch
1. Prepares the body for the future
When you’re heading to the gym, you know you’re going to push your body beyond the comfortable and this is often painful. Stretching allows you to prepare the body for the pain ahead and it encourages the flow of blood to the right places in the muscles. When the muscles enjoy an oxygen supply, the nutrients needed to keep them going through the workout will also be released.
2. Calming effect
Another reason why you need to stretch before a workout is that stretching has a calming effect. Similar to what yogis derive from yoga. When you stretch, the muscles contract and the physical body relaxes which translates to a more relaxed and calm emotional state. This re-energizes you and keeps the body relaxed.
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3. Elongates the muscles
Only stretching can allow you move through the full range of motion when you hit the gym to lift weights. It also helps you create long and full muscles that eventuate after many nights of pushups.
4. Risk of injury
When you workout, there is bound to be injury one way or another. Just as vitamins are preventive medicine for healthy and can decrease the likelihood of illness, stretching your body before a full workout can also act as a form of preventive measure for your body by ensuring you stay mobile, flexible and injury free. When your body is flexible, your long muscles won’t be susceptible to tearing and you will have ample room to move around and lift as much as you want.
Must Read: How to Avoid Injury When Working Out
5. Fast recovery
Nothing eases the pace of your recovery as much as a good stretch minutes before the workout. Stretching warms the body before a workout and it also works wonders on recovery and may prevent the dreadful Delayed Onset Muscle Syndrome. When you exercise, there are toxins that are relaxed in the body the muscles are exerted and contracted. Once you stretch, these toxins move into the bloodstream and out of the muscles where they can be eradicated. Stretching is beneficial before a workout and stretching after a workout means you won’t feel like a string puppet who just had his ropes tightened. You will be able to turn your back and tie your shoelaces without pain.
6. Flexy feeling
A byproduct of stretching is increased flexibility. You will experience a new range of motion that you might have found difficult of doing in the past or deem too dangerous. Stretching is often overlooked but it is quite important for your workout.