If you exercise regularly, it’s important that you stretch before and afterwards to help avoid injury i.e. tearing of muscles. You are probably aware of this and hopefully already practice it but there are actually two different kinds of stretching and doing the wrong one is one of the reasons why people hurt themselves while stretching. Let’s take a further look at what these different stretching techniques are, how to do them and what they do for your body.
You would usually stay still for this type of stretch and you would stretch your muscle to the point of slight discomfort but not pain. It’s important to remember that the stretch itself and the position that you are in for the stretch should be held for around 30 seconds at a time. It is also recommended that you perform 3-5 static stretches for the part of the body that you are working out. If you were going for a run for example, you might choose to perform 4 different static stretches for your legs, ensuring that you hold each move for around half a minute. Static stretching is safe to do and will help to improve your flexibility among other benefits. An example of static stretching is standing in one place and bending your leg back and upwards parallel to your body, preparing your hamstrings for a run or similar type of workout.
Dynamic stretching is usually done by professionals or those dedicated to sport. Saying that, there is absolutely no reason why you cannot learn how to dynamically stretch and it will greatly benefit you. With static stretching, you hold the pose but this is not true with this type of stretching. Dynamic stretching involves repeatedly moving your joints and muscles, in a full range of movements for a particular area of your body. This helps circulation in your body in addition to other benefits. Despite the speedy movements involved with dynamic stretching, you should still do the moves with precision to help avoid injury and prepare you for the physical activity you are about to engage in. Walking lunges and arm circles are both examples of dynamic stretching and are really easy to do.
When to perform each stretch
A static stretch is otherwise known as a “cool-down” stretch and it is to be performed after you have finished working out. It helps to settle the muscles after they have been exercised and helps to prevent injury. You can also stretch in this way throughout the day if your body feels ‘stiff’ or sore. A dynamic stretch is also known as a “warm up stretch” and should be performed before a particularly gruelling workout. If you are still confused as to actually how to do these stretches, look online or watch instructional videos for some actual examples. It’s so important that you get these right, especially if you exercise on a daily basis because you are really challenging your muscles – so it’s really important that you take care of them also.
Other stretching tips
There are some other things that are worth keeping in mind when stretching to ensure that you are doing it correctly. You should make sure your muscles are slightly warm before doing your initial dynamic stretch pre-workout. You could do something as simple as jogging on the spot for a minute or performing several jumping jacks to ensure that this is the case. Avoid jumping or quick movements when static stretching, the whole point of a cool-down is to be as gentle and precise as possible. Stretching should NOT be painful or cause you to wince in any way, if this is happens to you then you are doing it wrong. There are a whole range of stretches out there, that can be performed on all areas of your body to suit the physical exercise that you do.
Now that you know the meaning of both stretches you should be able to put them into practice during your next workout. Doing the wrong kind of stretch or getting the technique wrong is the main reason why people hurt themselves stretching. This is easily preventable and you should now be able to work-out with a little more confidence!