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Over the years, there has been a lot of controversy over whether or not stretching is beneficial prior to a workout in order to prevent injuries. Many experts and professionals from different fields will say that it does in fact help prevent injuries from occurring while others will disagree.
A case study done at McMaster University concluded that “stretching had no effect in reducing injuries”. The results from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also suggested that “stretching before exercise does not reduce the risk of injury”.
While many experts have concluded that stretching may not reduce the risk of injury, stretching does have other benefits whether you are a fitness enthusiast or not. In fact, stretching at any time during the day is beneficial to keep the flow of circulation going, especially if you are at a job that keeps you in the same position for a long period of time such as sitting in front of a computer at a desk.
As a personal trainer and an athlete with a martial arts background, I have always used stretching to assist me with my flexibility and decrease my muscle soreness, thus improving my overall performance.
Whether you are a fitness newbie or a seasoned vet, stretching improves flexibility, loosens tendons and muscles, improves your range of motion at your joints, increases performance and helps the flow of circulation.
What muscles do we need to stretch?
As you would with a strength training routine, you must design a stretch routine to focus on your imbalances to prevent injuries. Over time, improvements in your flexibility and range of motion will also improve your athletic performance.
Tailor your stretches to the activity or sport you are doing. Divide your stretching routine up into upper and lower body movements. Focus on larger muscles such as the chest, back, arms, and shoulders to target the upper portion and the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves to focus on the lower half.
Remember, not all stretches are the same
You can maximize your workout and prevent injury by pairing it with one of the proper stretch techniques below:
Static stretching – Hold the stretch for anywhere from 10 seconds to 60 seconds. Although this stretch is great for a post workout routine, it is also a great type of stretch for moving exercises such as jogging and running. Stretching out the muscles you are going to use and holding them will loosen the muscles and tendons needed to perform an exercise that requires more endurance.
Dynamic stretching – Stretches that mimic the exercises you are about to perform. Chest stretch, air squats, arm circles, etc. This stretch technique is better used for strength and conditioning exercises such as weight lifting.
Tips to remember while stretching
- Hold each stretch for 10 – 60 seconds.
- Stretch to just the point of discomfort.
- Stop stretching if you are feeling any discomfort or pain during the stretch.
- Do not hold your breath while stretching, exhale slowly.
- As always, if you have any health concerns, consult with your doctor about the most appropriate way to stretch.
Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, I can help!
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