The DO’s and DON’T's of Stretching

stretching1.thumbnail The DOs and DONTs of Stretching Do you hold your breath when you stretch?

DON’T! I’ll tell you why in a minute. But First you must know this, that although we’ve been told for decades that stretching before sports reduces the risk of injury, new research has found no solid evidence to suggest that stretching will minimise the risk of injury from participating in sport or exercise.

“BUT If this is so, Why should I stretch?”

Stiffness and tightness can occur from more than just exercise; it can be from poor posture, stress and everyday activities such as slouching over your desk. This is why stretching is essential for everyone, not just people who exercise.

The main benefit of stretching is flexibility. This maintains range of motion, and allows muscles to move safely and generated force for sport or daily activities. Being supple is about more than being able to do the most advanced yoga pose or preparing for a workout; it’s essential for everyone for a totally balanced and healthy body.

Here are other 10 GREAT REASONS why stretching should be a part of our daily routine:

1. Gives long, lithe muscles. Ageing and inactivity causes muscles, ligaments and tendons to shorten over time.
2. Relaxation: relieves muscle tension and tightness.
3. Addresses gradual loss of flexibility linked with ageing.
4. Reduces wear and tear on joints, thus reducing joint pain.
5. Gives good posture and corrects body imbalances occuring from muscle tightness.
6. Provides better sleep – by up to 30 per cent, studies show.
7. Boosts energy and circulation.
8. Reduces risk of injury by helping balance the body.
9. Eases sore muscles after exercise.
10. Improves physical performance. Flexibility helps you get the most out of your body – in daily life and while training.
And finally, YOUR STRETCHING DO’s and DON’Ts:

**DO think about where you should be feeling the stretch.
**DO stretch anywhere, anytime – in front of the TV, at your desk or in the car.
**DO use a partner or tools to further or modify stretches.
**DOdynamic stretches – ie. stretching the muscle through movement – for muscles you’re about to use in your workout.
**DO static stretches (where you hold the stretch) for most of your stretching routine.
**DO stretch as part of your cool-down.
**DO hold stretches for at least 10-30 seconds, more if you’re advised or you’re conditioned for stretching

DON’T stretch for longer than 60 seconds.
DON’T ‘bounce’ your stretches.
DON’T hold your breath; practise deep breathing to boost oxygen to your muscles to assist relaxation.
DON’T stretch in pain; stretch until you feel tension and hold this position.
DON’T over-stretch if you’re pregnant, because your ligaments are more prone to injury. They’re more lax due to the release of the hormone relaxin, which loosens your ligaments to prepare your body for childbirth.
I hope this info could be of help to you. Feel free to ask questions,  and/or share with us some helpful tips you’ve tried yourself and found to have made some difference.

Author: Rowell Bulan, MD

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