How should we stretch? Opinions differ on stretching, about the outcome, how we should do it, when and for how long.
All around the world people stretch before sports and games. But did you know that stretching doesn’t help to prevent injury, damp down muscle soreness after exercise, or improve your performance? It may even fatigue the muscles unnecessarily before an event. Therefore, before an activity, stretching should only be done dynamically using activity related movements as part of the warm-up.
Apart from that, you can stretch every time you want and as long as it feels good: after a workout, in the morning, before bedtime or during work breaks. Stretching should be an inherent part of your training or activity routine. Over time, a daily stretching offers a whole lot more than the ability to touch your toes or do the splits.
⭐️ it increases blood flow. Stretching brings fresh blood to muscles that are often underused during our daily activities and makes them less tense and relaxed. So, if you were sitting on your desk for the last couple of hours get up and stretch these neglected muscles a bit.
⭐️ it decreases pain. Stretching allows you to bend, squat, sit, and move with fewer complaints from your joints, resulting in less pain and stiffness in your everyday life! It doesn’t actually lengthen your muscle tissue but it get mobilized and improve thereby range of motion.
⭐️ It can improve your workout outcome. Your muscles have an optimum length at which they can exert the most power. And they will also become stronger in the specific ranges that you work them over. If you can’t reach full depth on a squat, you’ll never get the maximum benefit from that exercise. E.g., stiff knees make it impossible to squat below parallel. And if you can’t squat below parallel, you won’t get full activation of your hip muscles. And if you don’t get full activation of those hip muscles, you’ll never get that cracking gluteus that you’re longing for!
⭐️ your parasympathetic nervous get activated and tells your body and mind to relax. A stretch routine after a strenuous workout or a long stressful day at work helps you to cool down and get calm.
⭐️ and like every physical activity it makes you happy because it releases endorphins, happiness boosting hormones. If you combine that with the calmness, you’re getting a full mental refreshment after just 10 minutes of stretching…
But how should you stretch: static, dynamic, ballistic, active, passive, isometric, PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation), MET (muscle energy technique)?. For everyone not having a degree in physical therapy: to get the benefits above, go for old-fashioned relaxed static stretching. It works just as well as the others and it’s easy and safe.
Do as dogs or cats do: they stretch every time they get up, without plan or timer. If it feels nice, they carry on. If it hurts, they change position or stop. Listen to your body and give it what it needs.
At Ammann Bodywork you not only get a massage tailored to your needs but also advice for your daily stretching routine.