How does one Stretch Without Stress?
Stretching helps in speeding up recovery and reducing muscle stiffness. A supervised session realigns the muscle fibers to their original shape once the exercise is done. Continuously avoiding stretching can cause postural imbalances eventually as well as pains and aches.
When it comes to improving performance and increasing the range of motion, stretching is genuinely worthwhile. When stretching is done right, it can enhance flexibility and reduce the chances of injury.
A few common stretching mistakes are enlisted below.
Using improper stretch
A lot of people are not aware of which stretch activates which pain point. Not choosing the right stretch can increase your chances of injury and can also cause muscle stiffness
Let us acquaint ourselves with two commonly used stretches.
This type of stretching comprises dynamic movements without holding a specific position. Dynamic stretches increase the blood flow in the muscles and elevate the heart rate. These stretches are done before the workout as part of warming up. They help in increasing the oxygen supply to the muscles working out better. They enable you to sustain the activity for a more reliable period. At the same time, when you stretch before exercise, you mentally prepare yourself for the intensity that your workout demands. We are no stranger to the fact that exercising with cold muscles can lead to muscle pulls and injuries.
This type of stretch is self-explanatory; you hold the stretch for a period of time, that your body deems convenient, in a static position. This stretch helps in increasing the length of the muscles. This stretch is done after the exercise. If these stretches are to be done as a routine, you must first warm-up and then practice these stretches. Static stretching helps in pacing recovery; it helps realign the muscle fibers and reduces the chances of postural deformities.
You might think it is not important to warm up before a stretch, but you actually should do that. Warming up before the stretch increases the blood flow in your muscles and connective tissues, making the muscles more pliable.
Your warm-ups should comprise low-intensity aerobic exercises that are aimed at mildly elevating your heart rate. The exercises here could be simple jogging, jumping jacks, high knees and arm circles. This will help loosen up your muscles and avoid injuries that could have happened if you would have stretch cold muscles.
Often observed in group classes, the instructor pushes the student into a stretch, this is sometimes beneficial. However, if stretched too much, it can cause severe tears and muscle damage that can take too long to heal. If you are stretching by yourself and not taking assistance, you should still bear in mind that a stretch should only cause mild discomfort without any pain. Do not push your body past its limits and stay in your own range of motion. Assisted stretches should also be done with caution. If your muscles feel stiff even after stretching, then do not push the stretch too much; instead, do the same stretch multiple times a day.
Stretching helps in improving flexibility and movement range of the muscle. Not stretching before and after your workout can cause your muscles to shorten and cause stiffness around your joints, limiting your range of motion and increasing discomfort.
For example, people who have a desk job tend to slouch forward throughout the day; this causes their chest muscles to shorten, leading to slouching posture and can cause forward neck or ‘text neck syndrome.’ Incorporating a stretching routine can help in maintaining good posture and improves functionality.
Forgetting to breathe
Often, when people hold a stretch, they forget to breathe; this happens unconsciously. Doing this can cause your muscles to be resistant to the stretch. When you breathe while stretching, the oxygen supply to your muscles increases, reducing muscle soreness. Breathing when you are stretching can also help in calming you down and can have a relaxing effect on your body.
Too much too soon
Everyone wants to be super flexible and be able to do splits; seeing people on the internet and mimicking the same can cause you to injure yourself. Doing a stretch that you are not aware of how to perform, bouncing and stretching, trying to do something complex can be detrimental to your fitness. Go slow when you are practicing something new; look for the right sources to learn the movement or the stretch.
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