Why should we stretch?
It has been shown time and again that stretching is an essential part of muscle health, with benefits that extend from the moment of exercising to long after the last lap. Want to prevent injury in any way you can? Stretch. Want to stay flexible well into old age? Stretch. Want to improve circulation and performance during exercise? Stretch!
It’s never too late to pick up the practice, either. Those with arthritis will be glad to know that joint pain is lessened by common stretches. They do a lot to reduce inflammatory pain.
Wherever you are in life, it can only help to follow these basic tips:
Along with light cardio, active (or dynamic) stretching has been shown to be the most beneficial thing to do at the beginning of exercise or athletic performance. It involves movement and rhythm similar to the subsequent exercise itself. It lets the body know: “this is what you’re going to be doing right now. Get into the zone and don’t let me down!”
As Newton told us, an object prefers its current state of motion. Accordingly, you can’t shock the body into a sudden change in motion. It is best to always start out light and slow: do a light jog before breaking out into a full run, for example.
Do Static Stretches at the Right Time
Up next are static stretches. Static stretching involves striking a pose and holding it for ten to thirty seconds. It is recommended that you do this with warmed-up muscles. Otherwise, you could overstretch and hurt yourself.
The physics tidbit about the states of motion applies here as well. Make sure your athletic activity winds down in a measured way. This includes another set of stretches. A good cool-down reduces soreness the next day and lets you get back out and onto your feet that much quicker.