Stretch it Out

StretchEveryone seems to have a different opinion on stretching. Some say to do it before you work out; some say after. Some say static stretches work, while others claim dynamic is the way to go. So what's the deal? While some studies have been able to show benefits from stretching, others have shown that stretching may have little, if any, benefit. Therefore, it may simply come down to personal preference or what you believe works for your body.

Many people believe stretching is just as important as exercising and that the two should always go hand in hand. The benefits of stretching are generally thought to be:

Improved athletic performance Improved flexibility and range of motion Improved posture Improved body awareness Increased mental and physical relaxed state Decreased chance of muscle soreness Decreased risk of activity-based injuries

If you do choose to stretch, here are some tips:

Warm up before you stretch. You could try lightly jogging or doing jumping jacks for a few minutes to get the blood flowing to your muscles. Or, you could hold off on stretching until after your workout and skip the pre-workout stretching session altogether. That way you'll ensure your muscles are warmed up. Focus on the large muscle groups or the muscles you use the most and know are tight. For example, if your shoulders become sore after sitting at a desk during the day, be sure to include that muscle group in your stretches. You could generally try to focusyour calves, thighs, hips, lower back, neck, and shoulders. Stretching shouldn't hurt. Don't reach to touch your toes if they're out of reach. You should feel tension when you stretch, but not pain. Try dynamic stretching, which means introducing some movement into your stretches. Dynamic stretching is different from bouncing or moving quickly while you stretch; abrupt movements should be avoided because they can cause small tears in your muscles. Dynamic stretching is thought to increase power, flexibility and range of motion. You can read more about dynamic stretching here.

Post by: Kelly Shetron

Sources: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stretching/HQ01447 http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/02/sports/playmagazine/112pewarm.html http://lifehacker.com/5983731/why-stretching-is-just-as-important-as-exercise