With summer in full swing, everyone is out exploring, adventuring, and being active in their daily life. However, stretching after their physical activity is often overlooked. Many people forget about stretching, even those that are normally considered “active” individuals. Developing good stretching habits can help to improve flexibility and performance, especially in sports and other physical activities.
Greatly Improves Flexibility
Consistent stretch habits can improve an individual’s overall flexibility over time. This allows them to perform more efficiently during their sport or other physically demanding activity. Flexibility is important because it increase the range at which you can move each limb, allowing you to twist and reach further than you could without stretching.
Reduces the Risk of Injury
Stretching safely exposes your body to the strenuous limits that your sport or activity may introduce. By stretching in advance, it “prepares” the body for meeting those limits as they occur by loosening up the muscles slowly and carefully. Without stretching, if your muscle is forced to endure certain limits (typically very quickly and strongly), it can cause damage to the muscles. Stretching in advance will reduce the risk of injury because the muscle is already “prepared” for that exertion of force.
Increases Blood Flow for Performance
Not only does stretching improve flexibility and reduce the risk of injury, it will also help to improve the flow of blood through your body and the stretched muscles. Improved blood flow can help to improve overall performance, because each muscle is receiving more blood to help it perform more effectively.
Quick Tips for Stretching
Stretching doesn’t need to be complicated, but it should be worked into your exercising routine or before/after any physical activities.
- Stretch major muscle groups, especially the areas you expect to use during your sport or activity.
- Hold the stretch for a period of time (e.g., 30-60 seconds).
- Breathe normally during your stretching sessions.
- Aim for tension, but not for pain during your stretches.
- Keep movements smooth and avoid bouncing.
- Tailor your stretches for your sport or activity.
- Stay consistent with your stretching habits (e.g., a few times per week).
Try these tips out and incorporate stretching into your daily life – in addition to your sports and physical activities!