We all remember growing up and doing a wide range of stretches like toe touches, quadriceps stretches and more before exercising. Our coaches and parents said doing this prevented injury. Over the last couple of decades, stretching has become a more complicated subject. Nowadays, the general guideline is you should opt for dynamic stretching before a workout and static stretching after. However, it’s a little more complicated. That’s why we’ve put together this list of essentials on the do’s and don’t of static stretching.
Do Stretch Often During Work or Periods of Limited Activity
If you have a job that confines you to a desk most of the day, you may suffer back pain. When this is the case, stretching your neck muscles and back will go a long will to decrease pain and remove headaches. Once an hour, stand up for five minutes, look around and do some light stretching. Studies have shown that it not only reduces pain but also increases concentration and focus.
Don’t Use Static Stretches Before a Workout
There’s a big difference between doing a few stretches then sitting back down at your computer compared to stretches before a workout. Your body needs to be warmed up and ready for exercise. You risk injury in several ways from static stretches. If you not properly warmed up, you may damage your muscles. Likewise, static stretching has been shown to lead to decreased performance during a workout. Use dynamic stretches instead.
Do Use Static Stretching to Increase Flexibility
After your workout static stretching is great to gain flexibility. Think about it like this, you don’t need too much flexibility during a workout but afterward flexibility helps ensure you muscle achieve their full range of motion and helps reduces soreness the day after.
Don’t Hold an Intense Stretch for Longer than 20 Seconds
Many people get it into their heads the longer they hold a stretch, the better it is from them. Intense stretches that may cause pain are a sign that your body has hit its maximum range. You want to gradually increase this, because holding for too long will likely lead to injury.
Do Breathe Regularly During a Stretch
During difficult stretches, you may find yourself holding your breath. This is not as good as it makes your muscles tighten up. The best thing to do is yoga-style or regular breathing in and out during a stretch. Breath in through the nose and exhale slowly through the mouth. This helps ensure your muscles get the oxygen they need while relaxing the rest of your body.
Figuring Out the Best Static Stretching Techniques for You
Everybody is unique. There’s no one size fits all approach to stretching. You need to find which stretching techniques work for you and what doesn’t. Your goal isn’t just gaining flexibility, but also increasing muscle elasticity to help improve your overall fitness. That’s why it’s essential to find an assisted stretching expert who can help you.
Stretch therapy is more than just personal fitness and can also help you recover from injury, relieve joint and muscle pain, improve your sleep and more.