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Should I Stretch Before a Workout?

Should I Stretch Before a Workout?

1. What is Stretching?

Stretching is important to physical fitness and health. It is an exercise that positions different parts of the body into certain positions that stretch the soft tissues and body muscles. There are different methods and techniques you can search online to help you learn how to stretch properly and reduce the risk of injury.

2. What does Stretching do to your body?

When you start stretching regularly, a lot of changes happen to your body even if you do not exercise daily. It makes your muscles more flexible for high-intensity workouts. It helps your muscles grow stronger. If you do not stretch, your muscles tighten and shorten, weakening them and keeping them from extending. As a result, you may experience joint discomfort, muscle soreness, and muscle damage.

2.1. Benefits of Regular Stretching:

Stretching only once today will not instantly grant you excellent flexibility. It will take effort and dedication on your part, but the results will be worth it. According to a physical therapist David Nolan of Massachusetts General Hospital,

It might have taken you months to develop stiff muscles, so you won't be totally flexible after one or two sessions. It takes weeks to months to learn to be flexible, and you'll have to keep working on it if you want to preserve your flexibility.

Regular stretching improves:

  • Performance in physical activities.
  • Flexibility and reduces stiffness in muscles.
  • Reduces the risk of injury.
  • Helps you reach fitness goals.
  • Helps with posture.
  • Helps improve digestion and sleep.

2.2. Why is stretching important before a workout?

Stretching before playing a sport or going to the gym will not increase your flexibility by a large margin. You must participate in regular, persistent flexibility training over a longer duration if you want to see change.

Muscles are made up of bundles of interconnected small fibers. Muscle fibers suffer tiny rips as a result of regular tension in the muscle when you exercise. Stretching before you exercise should, in theory, make the muscles more supple and less prone to tearing during exertion. Researchers have discovered plenty of advantages to stretching when comparing the the statistics of injuries or muscular soreness among people who stretch before exercising against those who do not stretch before exercising. The truth is that stretching a cold and tight muscle might result in injury.

3. 5 reasons why stretching before exercising is beneficial

  • Reduces muscular tension and promotes a peaceful state of mind.
  • Improves coordination by allowing for more fluid movement.
  • Stretching helps to prepare your body for any physical exertion.
  • Exercising after stretching is a more pleasant experience.

4. The Fundamentals of Stretching

  • Make sure not to overextend yourself in the beginning. Take a little stretch and then stretch as far as you can as soon as you feel fully relaxed.
  • Make sure to wear proper Workout Clothes.
  • Simply learn to stretch properly and flexibility will develop over time.
  • Continue to stretch in a comfortable posture; the tension from stretching should begin to lessen as you continue to exercise.
  • As you bend forward, hold the stretch for a moment. Take a nice, deep breath and exhale slolwly to relax.
  • When you stretch, you should expect to experience tension rather than pain. If it aches, you've gone a little too far.
  • Ease your body back to the starting position.

4.1. Types of Stretching

Two common stretching techniques include:

  1. Dynamic stretching
  2. Static stretching

1) Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretching involves movement. You stretch by utilizing the innate tension in your muscles. Dynamic stretches, when properly executed, can help enhance your speed and agility throughout a workout.

Before engaging in any form of physical activity, dynamic stretches can be a sequence of motions to help warm up your muscles.

The following dynamic stretches are recommended before a workout:

Lunges

  • Start by putting your feet together and standing straight.
  • Focus on engaging your core as you propel yourself forward with your right leg, adjusting your weight so that your heel comes down first.
  • Continue lowering yourself until your right thigh is flat on the ground and your right shin is vertical, then repeat the process.
  • Press your right heel into the ground to pull yourself back up to standing straight. Repeat the process for the left leg.

Arms Circles

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, stretch your arms out to the side, perpendicular to the floor, and take a deep breath.
  • With your arms straight, circle your arms forward and around in small, controlled motions.
  • Increase the size of the circles gradually until you feel a stretch in your triceps. Then, circle your arms in the opposite direction.

Hip Circles

  • Stand with your back straight and your feet spread apart a little wider than shoulder-width.
  • Bend your knees a little and rest your hands on your hips for support.
  • Slowly spin your hips in large circles as if you were dancing.
  • Circle your hips in one direction, then switch to the opposite direction. Using the correct posture is essential.

Leg Swings against a Wall

  • Hold onto a wall while maintaining a straight posture with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Keep one leg still and slowly swing the opposing leg back and forth in a single continuous motion while keeping one leg still.
  • Repeat the process on the other side until the set is complete.

2) Static Stretching:

Static stretching involves holding stretches for an extended length of time, generally between 30 to 60 seconds depending on the individual.

Static stretches, in contrast to dynamic stretches, are held in place and do not require much movement.

These stretches are recommended for a post-workout routine.

Shoulder Stretching

  • Extend your left arm in front of your body at about chest height and hold for a moment.
  • Alternatively, hold your left arm in your right arms elbow crease, or hold your left arm in the palm of your right hand.
  • Continue to look forward while stretching out your shoulder blades.
  • Continue this stretch for about 30 seconds.

Butterfly Stretching

  • Starting on the floor, with your back straight and your legs bent, perform a seated forward bend. Exhale as you bring the soles of both feet together and make sure both knees are pointed towards the sides.
  • With your hands on your feet or ankles, steadily lean forward while maintaining a straight back and neck.
  • Put your elbows on your thighs and gently press down to get the stretch you desire.

Calf Stretching

  • One leg should be kept straight and flat on the floor while you lean against a wall.
  • The other leg should be bent and pointed towards the front. Slowly bend your elbows and front knee, then slide your buttocks forward until you feel a stretch in your leg.
  • Repeat.
  • Continue to hold this posture for 30-60 seconds.
  • Alternate between legs and repeat the process with your other leg.

Quadriceps Stretching

  • Softly lift your heel and back until you feel stretching towards the front of your leg by grasping and pulling gently on your ankle.
  • To keep your stomach from falling outward, tighten the muscles in your stomach, and keep your knees close together when walking.
  • Hold the position for approximately 30 seconds.
  • Repeat the process with the other leg.

5. Starting a Stretching Routine

When people start giong to the gym, they understand it will take some time for them to start getting stronger. The same is true when it comes to stretching.

Do some light stretching to get the blood flowing to your major muscle groups and loosen up your joints for a few minutes. For example, instead of starting at a fast pace right away, spend 5-10 minutes on a stroll with large strides. Then slowly increase the pace.

Alternatively, while using a treadmill or other gym equipment, start on a low setting. The increasing number of exercises will be met gradually, giving your heart and muscles time to adjust.

  • You must have an understanding of good form/posture to lessen the risk of injury.
  • You may stretch at any point in the day. On the days you work out, you should:
  • Before starting your wrokout, spend 5-10 minutes doing dynamic stretching exercises.
  • After your workout, spend an extra 5-10 minutes doing staticor PNF stretches.
  • Including the days when you don't plan to work out, set aside at least 5-10 minutes of time for stretching in your calendar.
  • This can improve flexibility as well as reduce muscular tension and soreness.
  • When stretching, concentrate on the primary muscle groups in your body that aid in flexibility, such as your calves, quadriceps, hip flexors, quadriceps, and others.
  • Exercises that stretch your shoulders, neck, and lower spine might provide comfort for the upper body.

6. Exercising Caution

  • Stretching is not a safe option if you have any existing injury or tissue damage.
  • Don't push yourself out of your comfort zone.
  • Don't stretch cold muscles. Start slowly.
  • If you have a chronic muscle injury, consult a physical therapist so he can provide you with stretching exercises to help.
  • Also, keep in mind that stretching does not rule out the possibility of getting hurt.
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