The Benefits of Stretching
Whether it’s circuit training or walking, stretching is of universal importance to a safe and healthy workout routine. In fact, stretching can be beneficial in our everyday lives, even when we’re not engaged in a purposeful fitness program. Here are some interesting facts about stretching that you might find useful.
The difference between static stretching and dynamic stretching
A stretch is a stretch is a stretch, right? Not exactly. The stretches associated with exercise that we normally think of – like when we extend a particular muscle to our limit and hold it for 30 seconds – is a static stretch. Dynamic stretching is a whole different ballgame. It is where you slowly and gradually move through a series of motions that warm up your body by raising your heart rate and sending more blood to your muscles.
When should you do static stretches?
Contrary to what we used to believe, doing static stretches before an exercise routine does not improve muscle performance. In fact, in some instances it can actually inhibit performance. Static stretches should instead be used at the end of a workout to help improve flexibility and cool your body down. Static stretches can also be helpful when they are not associated with exercise or on “off” days when you will not be participating in your regular exercise regimen. Before stretching on your “off” days, make sure to warm up your muscles with a few minutes of walking to get the most out of your stretches.
When should you do dynamic stretches?
Although you may not have called them by this name, chances are you’ve been doing dynamic stretches for most of your life. Dynamic stretches are nothing more than warming up before exercise. They are designed to put your body through the same motions as your workout does, but at a slower rate, gradually increasing in intensity. For example, Curves workouts incorporate dynamic stretching alongside strength and cardio during the warm-up and cool-down for a well-rounded workout.
Everyday stretching tips
Static stretches can sometimes help relieve muscle tightness or achiness. For example, after you’ve been engaged in an activity that has kept you in the same position for a while – like weeding your garden or riding in a car – static stretches can reduce muscle tension and increase flexibility.
Be sure to do dynamic stretching before – and static stretching after – exercise of any type, inside or outside the fitness center. For instance, if you walk on off days, it’s important to warm up and cool down, just like you would do if you were in the gym.
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