There’s a lot of debate around stretching, such as when to do it, for how long, and why we stretch. Some say stretch before exercise and some say afterwards; some say don't stretch in the morning, others say stretch in the shower – the conflicting advice all gets pretty confusing, so here are some general tips to help you out.
So, what do we know for sure?
Stretches should feel slight tension and not pain. Don't push hard and think you will get even better results; just stretch more often. Frequently stretching gets better results and is generally safer than infrequent intense stretching.
Cold muscles don't stretch as well so there is some weight to the theory of avoiding stretching first thing when you wake up. This doesn't mean you can't stretch in the morning, but make sure you get out of bed and get moving a bit first. Let your body warm up and get some blood flow before you go pulling on your muscles.
Prior to exercise or performance, you need to warm your body up. Get your joints moving with exercises such as leg swings, step lunges, squats, and arm circles, starting slow and building to a moderate speed as you warm up. Research has shown that static (held) stretching before performance may actually decrease the performance in some specific sports. So, keep your warm-ups dynamic and leave the static stretching for after training.
We tend to all agree that this helps reduce next-day soreness and, in the big picture, may help decrease the risk of injury. We do micro damage to muscles when we train, so stretching helps settle this down and helps your body get ready for the next training session. Thirty seconds seems to be the best length of time to hold a stretch to get good results.
Stretching after a work-out pays your muscles back for what they just did for you. Stretching in between work outs, like during the day (when warm), may help to improve flexibility (and it feels good!).
Dr Paul Hermann is the founder and director of Stay Tuned Sports Medicine. He believes it is our responsibility and privilege to help everyone we interact with to feel as good as possible.
His motto: 'Everybody Deserves to Feel Good'.
Paul continues to share his passion through his work in the Stay Tuned clinics, mentoring many practitioners, writing Health and Fitness related articles and travelling internationally to lecture and look after a variety of professional athletes and teams.
Paul brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in the health industry and to Casper Wellness – there aren’t many injuries this guy hasn't seen!
For more tips and tricks follow Dr Paul Hermann @paul.osteo.staytuned
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