The importance of stretching

August 12, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

How to stretch and Bulild a lean body Knowing that one must stretch really is old news that we all picked up back in our physical education days. But as the years go own, it seems more and more people seem to forget not only that they need to stretch, but the importance of doing so. A scenario for you:

”You workout at the gym and your friends Tom, Dick and Harry all start their workout after you at every session. You notice (subconsciously) that Tom and Dick stretch before every session, but you also notice (subconsciously) that Harry doesn’t. A few months pass and one day you are having a conversation with Tom, Dick and some other gym friends and in-between that conversation some one asks ‘By the way, where’s Harry these days?’ and Tom would say ‘ I think he’s injured…pulled a muscle or something not to sure why or how!’.

Deja vu for anyone?

I’ve seen this scenario time and time again at every single gym I’ve been to, and I believe that this is a no.1 reason for interruptions and injury in the gym (along with doing it all wrong). But in this case it’s about what people aren’t doing right!

Like most people I learned early on, the importance of stretching before taking up any high performance activity, as I saw first hand the results and damage caused from not doing so from other family members activities. But one must act on that knowledge once it’s acquired. It seems that some people think they are either invincible, lazy or for guys, they may have an immature or stubborn view that stretching is for girls or wimps! This unfortunately happens quite often, and when it does, you’ve got a Harry on your hands.

So what does stretching do for you?

Stretching improves joint range of motion, improves the function of your muscles and improves neuro-muscular control or efficiency.

Flexibility is the range of motion around a specific joint or a set of joints. Every movement you make from daily activities, exercise and sports require your joints to move through a full range of motion. Therefore a lack of flexibility will lead to muscular imbalances and eventually injury. (Harry)

The good thing about stretching is that it can be done anywhere, at home, on the track or at the gym, but it’s important to first understand the principles of warming up and warming down.

Warming up

Prepares and readies your muscles for exercising and this will prevent injury.

Warming down

Is what you do after you exercise.  Doing this will help your muscles recover and reduce soreness.

Just be sure not to stretch for more than 30 seconds on any one muscle and to never bounce. Always hold firm and still.

What stretches should one perform?

building lean body

All of the above are stretches that you should perform. My favorites have always been quadriceps, calf, standing hamstring and hip flexor stretches.

What will stretching improve?

  • Improve you flexibility
  • Feel better overall
  • Improve your posture
  • Reduce your risk of injury
  • Relieve pain
  • Counteract aging
  • Improve muscle recovery after workouts
  • Reduce stress

That’s really all there is to it and is aimed mostly at all the ‘Harry’s’ out there (You know who you are)! Be a Tom…. or be a Dick! 😉

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