5 ways to get the most out of stretching
by Marco Barciela De Assis, HBF Health Services Consultant
How do you feel after 8 hours in front of the computer? Do your muscles feel tight after a bike or running session?
If you answered yes to either of the above, then you can benefit from stretching regularly. However, are you doing it correctly?
Here are five tips to make sure you are getting the most out of stretching:
- Warm up – stretches shouldn’t be done when your body is cold. A warm up before your stretching routine is crucial to avoid tendon tears and muscle pulls. Active movements are the best ones to ensure your body is prepared for the stretches.
- Slowly and smoothly – start slowly and push yourself as your muscles loosen up. The movements should be smooth in order to avoid pulled muscles.
- Learn to feel your body – you need to know your limitations and pains. Stretches shouldn’t be painful and you need to be able to identify the point where your muscles are getting most of the stretch without reaching the pain. In the beginning, some people can have an uncomfortable feeling, however, it doesn’t need to be “painful”.
- Hold the stretch and don’t bounce – once you feel your muscles reaching the limit (pain free) hold the position for 15-30 seconds. Then, slowly move back to a neutral starting position and repeat the stretch on the other side. It’s very important to avoid bouncing, so you’ll feel a constant pull in your muscles.
- For training and sports – it has been well proven that static stretches can decrease force, power and performance. So, it is recommended to have a proper warm up, including dynamic movements to increase range of motion. Some examples should include: side lunges, straight leg kicks, forward lunges with side lean and arm circles.
See the Sports Injury Clinic for more stretching examples and variations.
The content of this article is not tailored for any particular individual’s circumstances. The author does not take into account your physical condition, medical history or any medication you may be taking. Any advice or information provided by the author cannot replace the advice of your health care professional. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent those of HBF unless clearly indicated.