While studies about the benefits of stretching vary in their results, proper stretching plays a crucial role in physical fitness. Although stretching is now known not to prevent muscle soreness, it does improve range of motion. Why is that important? Aside from making your everyday life more simple, good range of motion has a positive impact on athletic performance and helps decrease the risk of injury.
Think of it this way: increased range of motion equals increased flexibility. This means your muscles are able to flow through the entire range of a move without incurring damage or causing you to stop. The result? Better performance and less injury.
Stretching Dos And Don’ts
Proper technique is just as important for stretching as it is for the rest of your workout. Failing to use caution while stretching may cause more harm than good. Here are three tips to keep you safe and help you maximize your stretch.
- Warm up first - The old way of stretching before you do anything else is one exercise myth that has been debunked. Injury can occur if you try to stretch cold muscles, and you won’t get the most improvement in flexibility from that kind of stretch. So before you reach for your toes, take a light walk, jog, or bike ride for five to 10 minutes.
- Don’t bounce - When you stretch, reach for your goal and then hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds. Try not to bounce back and forth, as this may injure the muscle being worked. Aim for a smooth movement and continue to breathe as normally as possible while in the stretch.
- Keep pain at bay - It’s natural to feel tension when you stretch; it’s simply a side effect of the movement. However, back off when that tension turns into pain. Remember that, just like weight-lifting or cardio, stretching gets easier over time. So be patient. Do as much as you can without pain now, and gradually you’ll be able to deepen the stretch.
If you’re not sure you’re headed in the right direction when it comes to stretching, consider seeking the support of others. At Downtown Athletic Club in Amarillo, we offer yoga classes several times a week to engage you while you stretch. Reach out today to learn more.