There are a lot of benefits from stretching in association with physical exercise: stretching promotes flexibility and helps joints maintain a good range of movement, reducing the chances of muscle and joint strain. It also reduces the risk of sports-related injuries.
What is stretching
Stretching, as it relates to health and fitness, is the process of placing specific parts of the body in a position that lengthens the muscles and soft tissues connected (tendons and ligaments).
How it helps in sports
Muscles have exceptionally specific properties and need to be stimulated often, either by stretching or relaxing. Stretching is a good way to do this as it works on various muscle structures, including connective tissues and tendons.
It also is very valuable to prevent and reduce injuries as, by stretching repeatedly, the athlete improves flexibility. However, effects will only be felt in the medium and long term, just like the benefits of strength and endurance exercises.
What are the risks of not stretching the body?
- Increased tension
- Lack of flexibility, which in the medium/long term may cause imbalances
- Injuries that affect the proper functioning of the body and nervous system
Prevention and reduction of muscular injuries
Stretching before training
The most suitable stretches to do before a workout are the dynamic stretches, to promote the increase of blood circulation and help warm up muscles and ligaments.
Stretching after training
Static stretches should only be done at the end of a workout to restore the length of the neuromuscular spindles of the muscles that were worked during the training session.
Benefits of stretching
- Better posture
Stretching the body regularly reduces muscle tension, improving posture and avoiding the discomfort that could arise from bad posture.
If the muscles are flexible, the performance during physical activity is better. Stretching also helps preserve and recover flexibility, which generally decreases with age.
- Allows large movements
Stretching improves flexibility, making it likely for the athlete to have wider movements and better balance during sports.
- Helps relaxation
Stretching relieves muscle tension, which is often responsible for back, neck, and head pain. It also relaxes the body and mind, helping with stress and anxiety.
- Blood circulation
The blood flow in the muscles can be increased with stretching, which is vital for recovery after muscle injuries.
Don’t forget to work out with knowledge and good quality technique to prevent injuries. It is also very important to be accompanied by a trustworthy professional, who will help you respect your body's limits and adjust the training to you and your needs.