Stretching is an important part of working out. Stretching helps you maintain good posture and can improve your range of movement throughout life. Stretching prevents muscles soreness and helps your muscles recover more quickly. Here are some essential tips for how to stretch effectively.
1. Stretch at the Beginning and the End of Your Workouts
You should always warm up before a workout and cool down after. Warm up by performing the exercises you're about to do, or exercises very similiar to the ones you do during your workout, for about ten to twenty minutes. Following this warm up period, stretch the muscles that you used during your warm up; if you've warmed up properly, these will be the same muscles you're about to use during your workout.
Stretch during your cool down period as well. Stretching helps your muscles relax and oxygenates your muscle tissue to prevent the build up of lactic acid and resultant muscle soreness.
Stretching before and after your workout offers the following benefits:
- Stretching helps prevent overuse injury. It helps your muscles recover faster and makes you more aware of your body.
- Stretching helps build flexibility, and can improve balance and posture.
- Stretching helps prevent post workout muscle soreness.
2. Stretch between Sets during Weight Training
If you're training with weights, performing calisthenics or doing any form of resistance training or interval training, you can stretch in between sets or intervals to keep your muscles warm for the next set or interval. Not only does stretching between sets or intervals help to keep your muscles loose and warm, but it can also greatly increase your overall flexibility, as muscles stretch further with further resistance when they are warm and slightly fatigued.
3. Isolate the Muscle Groups or Individual Muscles You're Trying to Stretch
Isolation is one of the key elements of good stretching. Isolating a muscle or muscle group means choosing a stretching exercise that works specifically on that muscle or group of muscles, without effecting other muscles. This makes the stretch more effective and easier to control.
4. Use Leverage to Make Stretches More Effective
Stretches that benefit from good leverage are not only easier to control and therefore safer, but they're also more effective. Good leverage allows precise control over the stretch and can help you move deeper into the stretch over time to increase flexibility.
5. Stretch Safely
Stretching incorrectly or unsafely can lead to serious injury. Here are some tips for stretching safely:
- Don't push yourself further in a stretch than you know you can go; doing so might tear a muscle. Stretch as much as you can, but when the stretch begins to feel intense, stop there.
- Avoid any stretch that causes pain or discomfort in the joints or puts pressure on the joints.
- Keep your spine straight when bending, twisting or leaning in any stretches, to avoid disk injury.
- Make sure you're properly balanced and that all parts of your body are well supported during a stretch.
- Maintain control over the stretch.
Follow these tips to enhance your workouts and speed up recovery periods.