Stretch Into the New and Healthy You
Before and after participating in any form of fitness routine or workout, it is necessary to stretch. Stretching provides many benefits to your body. Benefits of stretching include correcting muscle imbalances, increasing joint range of motion and relieving tension and stress in the muscles. Stretching improves flexibility and lowers your risk of injury during a workout.
There are several types of stretching that you may engage in.
First, Self-Myofascial Release (SMR) can be used to correct muscle imbalances and help alleviate knots within your muscles. This type of stretching can be executed by using a foam roller to put pressure on tender muscles for about 30 seconds. This practice can help break down tension in your joints and muscles, improving your workouts if you experience muscle soreness. SMR can be performed before and after a workout. Muscles that benefit from SMR include glutes, calves, back and arms.
Second, static stretching is the process of taking a muscle to the point of tension and holding the stretch for 15-30 seconds. The type of stretching assists with elongation of the muscle. Static stretching can be performed before and after your workout, though stretching before your activity may help you move through your workout with ease. Hip flexor stretching and static standing adductor stretching are examples of static stretches.
Active-Isolated Stretching (AIS) will improve your flexibility and help maintain gains you’ve made. This form of stretching is performed by dynamically moving your joints through a range of motion. The goal is to stretch your muscle a little more than your body would normally allow. This can be done by using a rope or machine at the gym to assist you. This form of stretching is suggested for pre-activity warm up in order to reduce risk of injury. You would typically perform five to ten repetitions, holding for only two seconds each time. Examples of AIS include stretching your shoulders on a stability ball or standing adductor stretching.
Last, dynamic stretching is performed by using the force of a muscle and the body’s momentum to take a muscle group or joint through a full range of motion. Walking lunges and body-weight squats are great examples of dynamic stretches. Dynamic stretching is more of an advanced form of stretching that is advised for those with a strong core. It is recommended that you perform ten repetitions using three to ten dynamic stretches before a workout.
I encourage you to add stretching into your fitness regimen. Along with stretching, I also recommend using a recovery supplement post-workout. I personally use Labrada Nutrition’s BCAA Power drink mix for a post-workout muscle recovery drink. I have experienced faster recovery post-workout when I take my time and stretch.
Sources: NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training, Fourth Edition
Authors: Clark, Lucett and Sutton