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How To Understand & Apply The Benefits of Stretching

You may have heard conflicting advice regarding the benefits of stretching before and after a workout. But, the simple fact is that it’s an essential part of your exercise

Of course, there are different types of stretching that should be done pre and post-workout. In fact, even when you’re not working out you should be stretching every day. It provides a host of benefits:

How To Understand & Apply The Benefits of Stretching
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Types Of Stretching

There are essentially three main types of stretching:

1. Static

Static stretches require you to hold a position for 30-60 seconds. This lengthens the muscles and associated joints, improving flexibility and decreasing the likelihood of DOMS, (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness), after exercise.

2. Dynamic

Dynamic stretching is when you hold a position for just a few seconds. This is the type of stretching you should be doing every day and particularly before you exercise. By completing dynamic stretching you’ll be mimicking exercise and loosening your body in readiness for it.

3. Ballistic

This type of stretching uses jerky and fast movements. It’s designed to increase the muscle range of motion. However, because it is jerky it is the one most likely to cause an injury. It should only be done under supervision.

 

The Benefits Of Stretching Revealed

If you’re wondering is stretching good for you then wonder no more! Stretching every day, whether exercising or not, offers an array of benefits.

How To Understand & Apply The Benefits of Stretching
Credit: Photo by Jonathan Borba from PexelsCredit: Photo by Jonathan Borba from Pexels

  • Increased Flexibility

By stretching and using the muscles you’ll increase the flexibility of your body. Gently pushing the current limits of your body will ensure that your limits are stretched and improved.

In short, you’ll be more flexible!

  • Reduced likelihood of Injury

Stretching warms the muscles before exercise and helps them to cool slowly afterward. In doing so, you reduce the likelihood of causing yourself an injury while exercising.

But, stretching can also strengthen your core and improve your balance. This means you’re less likely to have a fall or other injury in daily life.

  • Less Muscle Soreness

If you’ve ever exercised, you’ll know the feeling of stiffness in your muscles which reminds you that you pushed their limits. It’s a good feeling but painful! Stretching maintains oxygen and nutrient flow to the muscles after exercise, reducing the chances of your muscles feeling sore.

  • Better Blood Circulation

Simply exercising increases blood flow. Stretching is a form of exercise and encourages your body to pump blood to your extremities. This improves oxygen and nutritional flow which decreases the likelihood of many age-related diseases.

How To Understand & Apply The Benefits of Stretching
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  • Improved Movement Range

The benefits of stretching demonstrate that this isn’t just something you should be doing before and after a workout. Doing stretching every day will help you to feel healthy, keep your body strong, and effectively reduce the risk of injury in everyday life.

Examples of Stretching Exercises To Get You Started After A Workout

If you’re wondering what stretching exercises you should be doing then you need to consider what muscles you’ve been using. It’s those that you need to target with stretches.

The following examples can help you to get started.

  • Downward Dog

Drop onto the floor on your hands and knees. As you exhale, lift your knees off the floor and move into a high plank position. You can then exhale again and lift the hips upward. At the same time rotate your forearms and move your shoulders as far away as possible from your ears.

You should also push your heels into the floor while lifting the tips of your feet up. This effectively stretches your back, shoulders, hamstrings, calves, and even the arches of your feet.

  • Quad Stretch

You use your quads every day, stretching them will help to strengthen them.

Hold onto a door or chair for support then use your left hand to hold your left floor and pull it up behind your back.  Ideally, your heel should be against your bum and your knees stay together. Hold for 60 seconds for each leg.

How To Understand & Apply The Benefits of Stretching
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  • Lower Back

Lie on the floor on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Slowly bring both legs up, keeping them bent, until your knees touch your chest. If they can’t reach your chest don’t worry. They will do with practice.

Once you feel the gentle stretch hold the position for 60 seconds.

  • Stretch Those Abs

Lie on the floor again but this time on your stomach. Place your hands under your shoulders and push upward. The aim is to get your arms fully straight without lifting your pelvis off the floor. It may take time to get fully extended.

Again, hold for 60 seconds.

The Final Stretch

Is stretching good for you? Yes. Choose your preferred stretching exercises and start doing them every day. It doesn’t need to be time-consuming. But, you’ll notice that, with regular practice, your flexibility, muscle strength, and even coordination will improve.

That makes stretching worthwhile!

 

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