The Importance of Stretching Before Working Out

By: moklesur@bringtheshreds
September 14, 2020

Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, secure, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage.

For example, sitting in a chair all day results in hamstrings in the thigh. That can make it harder to extend your leg or straighten your knee all the way, which inhibits walking. Likewise, when tight muscles are suddenly called on for a strenuous activity that stretches them, such as playing tennis, they may become damaged from suddenly being stretched. Injured tissues may not be healthy enough to support the joints, which can lead to joint injury.

Regular stretching keeps muscles long, lean, and flexible, and this means that exertion "won't put too much force on the muscle itself," says Nolan. Healthy muscles also help a person with balance problems to avoid falls.

Reasons for Stretching:

  • Reduce muscle tension, and increase relaxation
  • Increase your range of motion
  • Avoid muscle strains
  • Avoid joint strains
  • Reduce the risk of back problems
  • Prepare your body for strenuous exercise
  • Improve circulation
  • Reduce muscular soreness


Benefits of stretching

  1. Increases your flexibility

Regular stretching can help increase your flexibility, which is crucial for your overall health. Not only can improved flexibility help you to perform everyday activities with relative ease, but it can also help delay the reduced mobility that can come with ageing.

  1. Increases your range of motion

Being able to move a joint through its full range of motion gives you more freedom of movement. Stretching regularly can help increase your range of motion.

One study found that both static and dynamic stretching are active when it comes to an increasing range of motion. However, proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF)-type stretching, where you stretch a muscle to its limit, may be more useful for immediate gains.

  1. Improves your performance in physical activities

Performing dynamic stretches before physical activities have been shown to help prepare your muscles for the business. It may also help improve your performance in an athletic event or exercise.

  1. Increases blood flow to your muscles

Performing stretches regularly may improve your circulation. Improved circulation increases blood flow to your muscles, which can shorten your recovery time and reduce muscle soreness (also known as delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS).

  1. Improves your posture

Muscle imbalances are common and can lead to poor posture. One study found that a combination of strengthening and stretching specific muscle groups can reduce musculoskeletal pain and encourage proper alignment. That, in turn, may help improve your posture.

  1. Helps to heal and prevent back pain

Tight muscles can lead to a decrease in your range of motion. When this happens, you increase the likelihood of straining the muscles in your back. Stretching can help heal an existing back injury by stretching the muscles.

A regular stretching routine can also help prevent future back pain by strengthening your back muscles and reducing your risk for muscle strain.

  1. Is excellent for stress relief

When you're experiencing stress, there's a good chance your muscles are tense. That's because your muscles tend to tighten up in response to physical and emotional stress. Focus on areas of your body where you tend to hold your weight, such as your neck, shoulders, and upper back.

  1. Can calm your mind

Participating in a regular stretching program not only helps increase your flexibility, but it can also calm your mind. While you stretch, focus on mindfulness and meditation exercises, which give your brain a mental break.

  1. Helps decrease tension headaches

Tension and stress headaches can interfere with your daily life. In addition to a proper diet, adequate hydration, and plenty of rest, stretching may help reduce the tension you feel from headaches.


Stretching techniques

There are several types of stretching techniques, including:

  • dynamic
  • static
  • ballistic
  • PNF
  • passive
  • active stretching

The most common forms of stretches are static and dynamic:

  • Static stretches involve holding a stretch in a comfortable position for some time, typically between 10 and 30 seconds. This form of stretching is most beneficial after you exercise.
  • Dynamic stretches are active movements that cause your muscles to stretch, but the time is not held in the end position. These stretches are usually done before exercise to get your muscles ready for movement.


Best post-workout static stretches:

  1.    Seated hamstring stretch: Start with one leg straight in front of you and the other knee bent, allowing the bent thigh to rotate out to the side. Place your arms on the ground behind your pelvis and sit with a straight back, so that the posterior ligaments of the pelvis and spine are not loaded. Move your upper body forward until you feel the first sign of tension in your hamstring. Hold 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
  2.    Standing hip stretch: While standing, take a step back with your left foot, and with a straight back, lower the other knee into a high lunge until you feel the first signs of tension in the front of your hip and upper thigh. Do not extend past the point where your front knee forms a 90-degree angle. Hold there for 30 seconds and return to the starting position. Repeat with the other leg.
  3.    Supported back chair stretch: Kneel on the floor in front of a sturdy chair with your forearms crossed and resting on the seat of a sturdy in front of you. Breathe in, and as you exhale, let your head and chest sink below the chair seat until you feel the first signs of tension in your upper back. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and feel your shoulders and high backstretch.

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About Louis

Bring The Shreds was founded by Louis Ha. Louis is an online fitness coach and entrepeanuer based in the Bay Area. Read more of OUR STORY

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