Stretching can be integrated into your exercise routine as it helps you become more flexible and at the same time, widen the range of your joint movements. However, you need to practice proper stretching in order to get the most benefits because incorrect stretching can result to strained muscles and possibly, injuries.
How can you stretch safely? Here are 10 tips worth keeping in mind.
- Warm Up. Those who have been exercising for some time know how important it is to warm up before any activity. The same rule should be applied when stretching. Do a five to ten minute light warm up before you stretch so that your muscles are warmed up properly for better flexibility and movement.
- 10 Minute Stretches. Stretching every day even for just 10 minutes can help you remain flexible while at the same time, improve your sense of balance and even enhance your strength.
- Hold for 30 Seconds. Whenever you stretch, make sure that you hold the pose for 10 to 30 seconds. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t bounce when stretching as it can lead to overstretching. Muscles tend to contract when you overstretch causing small tears on the fibers of your muscles.
- Stretch Until You Feel Mild Discomfort. When stretching, stretch up to the point that you are comfortable with. If you feel that you can stretch even further do so or until you feel a mild discomfort. Once you reach this point, you should ease up on the stretch.
- Breathe Normally. You shouldn’t hold your breath or even practice breathing techniques while stretching your muscles. Allow yourself to breathe naturally as you move from one stretch to the next.
- Balance Your Routines. Your stretches should be well balanced so that each of your muscle groups is stretched properly. For example, if you work on the back of your thighs, the next stretch should be to work on the muscles at the front of your thighs.
- Avoid Boredom. Stretches don’t really need to be boring. There are plenty of stretching exercises out there that you can do aside from the basic calf raises, knee joint stretch, and hamstring stretch. You can join a yoga class or consult with a physiotherapist to learn new stretches that will work best for you.
- Use for Warming Up or Cooling Down. Doing stretches as a warm up or cool down will benefit you in many ways. For one thing, stretching is good for releasing any tension on your muscles and at the same time, increases your flexibility. The same goes true when stretching after your workout because it helps get rid of any kinks on your muscles.
- Make Stretching Part of Your Routine. Gentle stretches can do wonders for your blood circulation which in turn can help lessen any muscle soreness or pain.
- Get Advice. If you have a medical condition or just bounced back from an injury, consulting with your doctor or physiotherapist is recommended. They are in the best position to tell you which stretch is suitable for your condition.