Everyone knows about the need to stretch, but most people prefer to skip the stretching and get to the good stuff – yes even we do sometimes as we are considered the Red Deer Personal Training Experts. After all, stretching doesn’t help you get stronger, faster, or better-does it? Actually, the answer may surprise you. Because whether you’re lifting weights, playing volleyball, or running a few miles, stretching may mean the difference between a good time and a bad injury or getting stronger.
So what do you need to do to get the best stretch for your body, how much is enough, and when should you stretch your body’s limbs? Keep reading to find out.
GETTING THE MOST OUT OF IT
A good stretch is one that is slow and steady. If you want to hop on the fast track to injury, jerk during your movements and bounce the entire time. But if you’re more interested in avoiding injury, take your stretching nice and slow. When you feel the pressure of the stretch, pause and hold for 30-60 seconds. Don’t go until it is painful.
You should also stretch out all the body parts you plan to use. In most cases, this involves stretching the hips, legs, back, chest and shoulders. On occasion, very specific stretches catered to a sport or activity are required, but for most instances, stretching out the large muscle groups will be fine.
A MEASURE OF STRETCH
Now that you know the need for stretching, you may be wondering how much is enough? Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. For some, adequate stretching takes only a few minutes. For others, it takes longer. The secret is to know your body and to feel when stretching has done its job. Does your body feel flexible and ready to move to the left and right as needed? Then you’ve stretched enough. But if you still feel stiff and movement is hampered, keep stretching those muscles and ligaments until they’re ready to respond to the demands you’re about to put on them. What we have found best at our Red Deer personal training studio is to try a few sets of 30-60s and work up.
THE BEST TIME TO STRETCH
It’s best to stretch only before your workout right? DEAD WRONG. Static stretching (regular stretching) before a workout doesn’t really do that much. What we need to be focused on before a workout is warming up the muscle and leaving the stretching of the muscle until after the workout.
The first part? Warming up. This is best done by gently going through the motions of whatever exercise or sport you are about to participate in. Going to lift weights? Do some light lifting (think light weight only). About to play basketball? Shoot a few free throws and jog to the hoop gently for some lay-ups. Use this time to get your body warmed up and loose. Once you’ve done this, your muscles will respond more readily and safely to stretching.
Finally, stretching your muscles after you’re finished exercising helps maintain good blood flow and repairs the muscles you’ve just injured over and over during your routine. All this on top of increasing your flexibility and range of motion. WIN – WIN – WIN. If you have any more questions about flexibility and stretching, contact us and one of our Red Deer personal training experts will get back to you right away.