Stretching, along with sleep and drinking enough water make up the trinity of underrated exercise routines.
I get it, we all love big movements and if we aren’t lifting, pulling, pushing or flipping over something heavy, we usually don’t feel like it counts. But that’s a big lie. Simple, easy, controlled movements are as important as the dynamic ones too. Stretching is known for its benefits which include:
- Injury prevention: The body is often in a relaxed state before any workout begins. So before jumping into a strenuous routine, it only makes sense to warm it up. This way, the likelihood of snapping something or tearing a muscle during your exercise routine is reduced.
- Increases flexibility: Limber people, athletes or simply active people aren’t born that way. A habit of small stretches leads to a body that’s open to new stresses and able to contort into amazing positions. Think rubber band here. Yes, I know, the human body isn’t a rubber band, but the principles of gradual extension do hold in both cases. And flexibility also helps slow down the aging process.
- Increases your range of motion: It’s amazing what positions the body can assume when it is put through regular exercise that pushes its limits. Think contortionist or even gymnast and you’d see, the body is capable of a lot more range of motion than we normally assume it can manage. Stretching is a constant for helping your body push past its comfort zones.
- Improves posture: Multiple studies have shown that a mixture of the various types of stretches can impact performance in physical activities for the better and help to improve posture. Performance of physical exercise in good form improves the body’s alignment and thus, better posture.
Other benefits include stress relief, pain relief, and the mind relaxing benefits of yogic stretching among others.
But the issue in recent times have been, when is the right time to stretch, before or after a workout?
Initial findings from one study showed a reduction in performance when static stretch exercises like triceps or quad stretches were engaged in before a workout.
But more recent research has finally shed a new light on the issues. Researchers discovered that both static and dynamic stretches (e.g. jump squats, lunges with twists, high kicks, jump lunges, etc.) do not impact athletic performance any significant way.
So, are stretches good? The simple answer is yes.
When then should you stretch?
It’s best to incorporate static stretches into active or dynamic stretches to boost overall performance.
Do stretches that prep your muscles for the exercise program you plan to engage in. if it’s a high-intensity cardio day and you’ll be doing full body exercises, then target the body parts that host the muscle groups you’d be engaging more.
Easing the tension with an after workout stretch is a fine way to break from the energetic and hyper state the muscles have been in whether it’s a strength day you had or simple cardio.
Stretch. Mix static and dynamic stretches to get the best off your body during a workout.
Let’s get those gains