When it comes to exercise, most people skip stretching all together, or do very little of it because they either dislike the sensation, or because it takes time away from their fat-burning or muscle-building workout- or a combination of both.
People even use the excuse that they heard or read, that stretching wasn’t good for them.
The truth is that stretching has been a subject of debates in the fitness industry for many years. But, the debate is not whether stretching is good for you or not; it’s whether certain types of stretching at certain times (before, during, or after workouts) actually enhance or hinder performance, and or reduce or increase the risk of injury.
To clear all the confusion, research fully supports that specific types of stretching at specific times can and do benefit performance, as well as reduce the risk of injury. And with a little creativity, you can get your stretching in without taking hardly anytime away from your regular workout. Besides, even if you lose a few minutes from your workout, with a good stretching program, your workouts will be more effective and efficient. You will generate more force with each movement by recruiting more muscles fibers and increasing your range of motion, plus you will recover faster and reduce stress on joints from imbalanced muscles.
QUICK STRETCH TIPS
Start your workouts with self-myofascial release using a foam roller. Roll on most of the major muscles in the legs, as well as in the mid to upper back, and your lat muscles. Roll about 1 inch per second. When you find a tender spot, hold it for 20 to 30 seconds. This will help to break up the toxins that have built up and caused a knot, so they can be flushed out. This will also relax overly tight muscles and increase circulation.
Follow this up by a few minutes of ‘dynamic stretches’. Dynamic stretches are simply movements that you will be doing in your workout, being done slowly and through the full range of motion to get the muscles and joints warmed up. Leg swings or leg kicks in all directions, or karate punches are great examples of dynamic stretches. Try between 15 and 20 of each movement.
Lastly, ‘static’ stretch (hold a stretch for 30 to 60 seconds) the major muscles your work during a workout either at the end of your session, or during some of the exercises to save more time. For instance, you can be doing shoulder presses to build shoulder and arm strength, while in a lunge position to stretch the hip flexor and glute, at the same time.
The key to understanding stretching is to avoid static stretching before explosive movements or heavy weight training, unless you are specifically targeting an extremely tight muscle. Regardless, self-myofascial release and dynamic stretching are great forms of pre-workout stretching to help enhance performance and reduce the risk of injury.
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