So, ever since your very first PE class in elementary school, you’ve heard that stretching is important; right?
Most of us don’t really dedicate enough daily quality time to stretching. If you look at animals, you’ll notice that a total body stretch is the first thing they do when waking up. They also keep stretching throughout the day.
Most physical therapists and stretching experts agree that everyone has imbalances and mobility restrictions. We sit too much and don’t put our bodies into enough various positions.
Stretching helps tremendously with flexibility, range of motion and injury prevention. It keeps our muscles pliable and promotes blood flow, circulation, and nutrient supply into our muscles.
So, stretching really falls into about seven main categories. These include static, active, dynamic, passive, isometric, ballistic, and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF). The most familiar type is static stretching, which requires holding your body still for a set period to elongate the muscle. I’ll focus on that one for this article by answering some of the most common questions that I hear about stretching.
So how much static stretching is recommended? Aim to spend at least 5-10 minutes on stretching every day (at least 5 days a week for optimal benefit).
How long should I hold the stretch? 30 seconds is the universal recommended time to hold a stretch. Holding the position for a longer period actually increases your chances of tearing the muscle. Holding a stretch for as little as 10 seconds will make your time and efforts less effective. Don’t bounce and be too eager during stretching, just hold the stretch calmly and smoothly to avoid tearing your muscles.
Should I stretch before or after my workout? Most exercise and fitness professionals agree that it’s best to warm-up, (also referred to as dynamic stretching) before an exercise or activity and stretch afterwards when the muscles are warm. For example, runners often perform warm-ups/dynamic stretches like hip circles, walking lunges, and butt kicks to activate the muscle groups used in running. Afterwards, static stretches for hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves would be suggested.
This is an excerpt from my new book; “Fitness and Anti-Aging Secrets: Cracking the Code to Looking and Feeling Younger in Mid-Life and Beyond”, available at www.Amazon.com/author/jackwitt