The Simple Guide to Stretching

Pin It

Seawall stretch
Definitely one of the most neglected aspects when it comes to keeping healthy. So often we overlook stretching as it doesn’t hold the same appeal as lifting weights, running, swimming or playing sports and this can be to our detriment. Regular stretching can have a profound effect on our bodies just look at how effective Yoga is. Here are some of the key advantages you will gain from regular stretching:

  • Improved Circulation
  • Decreased Muscle tension
  • Increased Joint ROM (range of motion)
  • Better Co-Ordination
  • Improved Sports Performance
  • Faster recovery after exercise

I think we can add to this the improved functioning of the body in general. Stretching first thing in the morning will not only help circulate blood around the body but help hormones get flowing and your lymphatic system kick into gear. Hence why I like to start each day with a tall glass of water and a light stretching routine.

Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.

A good stretching or energising/calming routine can be done in about 5 minutes each day and this should cover your whole body getting everything well stretched and either ready for the day or ready for some sport. It will not only boost your wellbeing but set you up in the right way for the day ahead. On the other hand stretches can be used to wind down and relieve the days tension, so they really work both ways in balancing the bodies energy.

I find it is always best to stretch in order, either from top to bottom or bottom to top. For instance starting with the calves and ending with the neck. Also always make sure you are slightly warmed up before stretching. This can be achieved simply by doing 30 seconds of jumping jacks and some arm rotations. Once you feel slightly limber you can start stretching holding each movement for 10-15 seconds which would be classified as a ‘Maintenance Stretch’ meaning the stretch will not improve your flexibility but rather maintain it and get them ready for the day ahead.

Make sure you always stretch the following muscles:

–> Calves

–> Hamstrings

–> Quadriceps

–> Lower Back

–> Chest

–> Lats

–> Neck

Checkout the poster below for a guide to stretching out the entire body. The problem with demonstrating stretches without being there in person is that those unfamiliar with stretching may find it hard to grasp some of the movements. For those new to sports I would suggest asking for some guidance from someone you know has a knowledge in sports and specifically stretching. Or just start lightly, you should ease off the stretch as soon as you feel some tension in the targeted muscle.

I would also suggest using a matt or towel in terms of equipment to start or if it is good weather it is great to stretch outdoors.

  • Always brace your core while stretching to prevent injuries and strengthen your body.
  • Start slowly and go easy on each stretch developing each movement as time passes.
  • Taking one Yoga class can provide you with a wealth of knowledge when it comes to stretches.
  • Try to be consistent. 5 minutes of stretching each day is better than 1 hour of yoga once a week.
  • Improvement in flexibility may come quickly initially but will slow down.
  • If you can stretch lightly twice a day do it in the morning for the energising effects and before sleeping as your muscles will be warm and the stretches will help relieve the days tension.
  • When stretching after exercise you can hold stretches for 30 seconds to develop the muscles.
  • If you can only find time for two forms of exercise each day, Walk and Stretch.

Everyone from beginners to seasoned athletes should be stretching lightly on a regular basis. Any tips from readers about stretching would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading!

Comments

  1. says

    Good post Chris. I think the most important point to remember is that long-lasting results from stretching (ie. flexibility) occur with daily stretching.

  2. says

    I love adding easy Yoga moves to any workout because they always make me feel so good and light!
    I also love stretching with a foam roller. Just rolling on it for a while relaxes muscles and gives the feeling like you have just had an expensive massage session.

  3. says

    I switch among Ashtanga Yoga and different forms of Activated Isolated Stretching where the opposing muscle groups are tensed while the other side is stretched.

    People who do strength training don’t realize that stretching allows the muscle to strengthen to its potential and prevents strength from being built on dysfunction.

  4. says

    I couldn’t agree more! Stretching is often neglected in so many people’s workouts. It really is such vital part of feeling at home in our own skin. Thanks for sharing.

  5. says

    I’m terrible about stretching. I almost never do them before a workout. Really should. I do generally have a decent warming up period though. Keep in mind these workouts are measured in hours, not minutes.

    After the workout (or sometimes during after 4hr mark) I do some basic stuff and toss in a few yoga like moves.

    Glass of pure water and a stretch in the morning will make you feel like a champ! Good simple tip.

  6. says

    Great post. The one piece I always struggle with is how much of a warm up I need prior to stretching. I would hate to hurt my muscles by stretching cold.

    You mention warming up with jumping jacks and arm rotations. Is that enough? Is there a way to tell if I’m stretching ‘cold’?

    Thank you

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Stretching and Swimming. Go hand in hand, this is because swimming almost encourages stretching in the water as each stroke pushes and stretches the muscles involved. Competitive swimmer also have a pretty intense routine of stretching that is part of their program. If your fitness program only includes one thing apart from some swimming or weight lifting then let it be stretching……. [...]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>