Stretching has many benefits that can really help your body to stay fresh, active and feeling good.
From warming up properly to warming down, to a few stretches as you get out of the bed in the morning and go to sleep at night – stretching can pay dividends in a variety of different ways.
Whether you’re targeting your leg muscles, such as the quads, hamstrings, abductors and glutes – or upper body muscles like deltoids, biceps and pectorals – it’s the best way to work every aspect of your body.
Here are Sport360’s five stretching pointers
STRETCHING HELPS TO AVOID INJURY
Indeed, focusing on areas of your body that feel tight and need work can help reduce the risk of injury and generate greater blood flow, reducing the build up of lactate acid.
Regular stretching will also rapidly improve your flexibility and get rid of aches and niggling pains.
HOLD THE STRETCH
If you’re playing football or running a marathon, stopping for a quick stretch can really help you. Ideally you want to try and hold each stretch for at least 20 seconds – and often – a bit more.
This allows your body to ease into the movement and gives sufficient time to strengthen and lengthen a tight muscle.
Try not to bounce, wobble and avoid sudden movements of the body or you could end up tweaking or pulling a muscle.
TRY DYNAMIC STRETCHES
Essentially, this means stretching with movement – the opposite to static stretching.
Lunges, squats, step-ups, twists, kicks and jumps are all great ways to activate key core muscle groups and add a freeflowing feel to your workout.
Stretching can also help improve your balance and co-ordination.
A short burst of dynamic movements before exercise, such as a 10km run, will help to get your body moving quickly and with greater efficiency.
TAKE YOUR STRETCHING TO THE NEXT LEVEL…JOIN A YOGA/PILATES CLASS
With an improvement in your flexibility and a renewed sense of what your body can do, why not start a flexibility class such as yoga and pilates. It’s the best way to learn new exercises and routines, and at the same time, meet new people.
STRETCHING CAN ALLEVIATE A POOR POSTURE
We can all get stuck in a rut of sitting in the office, often slouching, for hours on end.
Sitting down for extended periods can cause extreme tightness in our hip flexors (known as the tightest muscle group in the body) and glutes.
In turn, lots of computer work can contribute to tired shoulders and compressed chest muscles.
Luckily, stretching is a great way to improve your range of motion and get your body moving.