Summer is right here, and we all want to shed those extra pounds gained during the covid period. Are you also dreaming of having that perfect summer beach body? If yes, then you are on the right page. Physical activity like stretching is a key to good health and fitness. Increasing health risks with every passing day are making people keener about their health. More than half of the population suffers from cardiovascular issues like heart failure, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety. The root cause behind all these life-threatening diseases is a sedentary lifestyle.
In this article, we will discover some important information about stretching that people are usually concerned about.
What is stretching?
Stretching is a physical activity that is specified for the toning of muscles. It improves the range of motion, releases tension, and makes muscles stronger, firm, flexible, and healthy.
Regular stretching has proven to be an effective method in reducing stress, anxiety, improving postures, mental and physical health, and above all, quality of life. However, due to a lack of awareness, this part of the workout is usually skipped by most people.
Types of stretches
There are various distinct types of stretching. Here we will discuss a few of these techniques.
- Static Stretching
Static stretching is considered a form of active or passive stretching in which you are required to hold a stretch, usually for about 60 seconds or less. This is the most commonly used stretching technique as it increases blood flow.
- Active Stretching
This type of stretching does not involve any external force. It is essential for preparing the muscle before exercise.
- Passive Stretching
Passive stretching is the type of stretching that involves some external assistance. This assistance can be a person, a wall, floor, or any weight.
- Dynamic Stretching
This type of stretching utilizes coordinated movements like swinging or bouncing movements. It is used as a warm-up for athletes as it only holds the stretch for about 2 to 3 seconds. It is preferable to static stretching.
- Ballistic Stretching
It is the method of stretching that involves repeated and quick muscle movements to increase the range of motion.
Since these bouncing muscle movements increase the risk of injury, experts no longer recommend this type of stretching.
- Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation Stretching or (PNFS)
PNFS is regarded as the most effective type of stretching as it reduces the risk of muscle injury by improving the range of motion. It is also referred to as Post-exercise static stretching.
How to know if you are doing stretches correctly?
Stretching is no doubt a crucial part of any exercise regimen. However, doing it the proper way is essential. The main aim of stretching exercises is to extend the tendons, ligaments, and muscle fibers. If you perform a stretch and your muscles feel tight and tensed, it means you are doing it right.
The following tips might prove beneficial in making your stretches more effective;
- Start with the targeted warm-up and never stretch a cold muscle
- Be careful and gentle while stretching
- Hold the stretch no longer than 30 seconds
- Your body should have some time to relax and recover
- Keep making changes to your stretching routine from time to time
- Normalize taking some rest if you are in pain
Some myths about stretching
Here are some of the misconceptions about stretching that you should stop believing.
- You should hold the stretch for 30 seconds straight.
- Stretching prevents injuries.
- Stretching regularly makes muscle tissues and tendons longer.
- If you are flexible, you do not need stretching.
- It is only essential for athletes.
- Everyone needs to have the same stretching routine.
- Stretching does not boost performance.
Why is stretching important? Why do you need to stretch every day?
Do you have a busy and hectic daily routine of sitting all day long? Are you suffering from the ill effects of this routine? Then, it’s probably high time you should think about your health and incorporate a 5 to 10-minute stretching routine into your life. Daily stretching is not only for athletes, but it is equally essential for everyone. It not only increases flexibility but also keeps the muscle in a well-toned shape. Greater the flexibility lower will be the risk of injuries.
The ideal time for stretching is before bed, as your body will have enough time for repair and healing.
Some amazing facts about stretching exercises
Here are some facts about stretching that you need to know.
- Stretching improves workout performance, making you feel stronger.
- Stretching increases the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.
- Dynamic stretching is better than static stretching.
- Daily stretches make the removal of metabolic wastes like ammonia, carbon dioxide, urea from the blood easy.
- It boosts your mental health by refreshing your mind.
- It is an effective way to get rid of daily stress, tension, anxiety, and depression.
Top 10 benefits of stretching for mental and physical health
Stretching is crucial for a person’s physical well-being, but it also has some other great benefits.
It increases flexibility and range of motion.
Flexibility is essential for better physical performance. Regular stretching after good work can make you more flexible and increase the range of movements.
It is an excellent cure for poor posture.
Poor posture can be the result of wrong sitting habits. Stretching is a great way to improve body posture and alignment.
It improves the flow of blood.
According to the studies, a practical stretching session after a workout increases blood circulation to those sore muscles, reducing their recovery time. It also protects the body from various illnesses like high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases.
It is a great stress reliever.
Stress adversely affects the body and can be a root cause of various illnesses. Stretching is a proven way of reducing stress and tension due to a hectic daily routine.
It is essential for the mental well-being of a person.
A person’s mental well-being is essential to lead a dignified life and is equally necessary at every stage of life. Stretching is an excellent way of reducing the risks of mental illnesses as it increases the blood flow and provides all the essential nutrients to your brain. It has also proven to be an effective method in the treatment of psychological issues.
It improves the sleep cycle.
Stretching not only makes you more active but is also associated with the regulation of the sleep cycle. It can help you doze off more quickly and sleep better by calming your brain.
It prevents injuries
As we tend to age, the risk of getting injuries also increases. Stretching is one of the best ways to reduce this risk as it increases blood flow to the muscle. Eventually, the recovery time for the muscle decreases.
It will regulate your blood glucose levels.
Yes, you read it right. If you are suffering from high blood sugar, stretching might help you. This is because when you do moderate exercise, your muscles tend to utilize more glucose from your blood. As a result, blood glucose levels are regulated automatically.
10 Best stretching exercises to wake your mind and body
You can consider adding the following stretches to your daily life to kick start your day and make your workout more effective.
- Cobra Stretch
This stretch is also referred to as Bhujangasana in yoga. It is well known for improving the symptoms of sciatica. It mainly targets and tones the core, shoulders, arms, glutes, and abs. It is also an excellent stretch for getting rid of stubborn belly fat.
- Child’s Pose
It is considered a stress and tension reliever stretch. It can effectively relieve back pain. In yoga, it is known as Balsana. It is a great stretch that involves the whole body. You can do it for 30 to 60 sec.
- Hamstring Stretch
This is an excellent stretch for those who want to improve their balance and flexibility.
Hold it for 10 to 15 sec and then switch the leg.
- Calf stretch
If you want to get rid of those bulky calves, here is an excellent stretch for you. It increases blood circulation and also supports the leg, foot, and ankle.
- Neck Stretch
It is a gentle stretch for the treatment of nerve and neck pain. It can also make your neck more potent and more flexible.
- Knee to Chest Stretch
This stretch targets the hip and lower back muscles. It not only improves blood circulation but can also help in coping with muscle soreness and stress.
- Butterfly Stretch
It is a great stretch that works your hip, knee, and inner thigh muscles. It is particularly helpful in improving posture, flexibility, and strengthening the back.
- Side lunge stretch
It is a great stretch that involves all the major muscle groups like the inner and outer thighs and glutes. It helps in strengthening the gluteus maximus muscle and also reduces the appearance of cellulite.
We hope this article will clear all your queries about stretching. Try to make it a part of your daily exercise routine. If you get an injury, consult your doctor as soon as possible to reduce further complications.