16 Apr The Importance of Stretching
Stretching… the missing link:
It can be a factor of fitness routines that people tend to avoid – stretching. People can start straight into ‘hardcore’ training without a dynamic stretching and warm up session and then avoid an adequate cool down. It can be often overlooked as less important as cardiovascular activities or weightlifting as the results of stretching are not as visible. Stretching can allow the body gain a better range of movements, improve posture and subsequently will allow you to squat deeper; improve your running stride or help you in whatever your goal is. Furthermore, developmental stretching and other fascia release techniques can help you build muscle!
Often static-passive stretching is used in warm up sessions. Dynamic stretching is another method of stretching that can be beneficial to the body if used during the warm up stages. Dynamic stretching, simply put, is moving as you stretch and engages the core in doing so.
By committing to a dynamic warm up, it will reflect the range of movements that will be carried out in the training session. Dynamic stretching activates the muscles that you will use during your workout and improves the range of motion. For example, hip flexors are opened and warmed up dynamically before a squatting session. This will allow you to get a deeper squat and activate the glutes! It also helps improve reciprocal inhibition which is where one muscle relaxes to allow the opposite to contract.
Static-passive stretching can be useful as part of the cool down phase of the workout and allows the body to cool down adequately to avoid blood pooling and a build up of lactic acid. Following on from gentle exercise to lower the heart rate, static-passive stretching will allow the body to return to its pre workout state whilst removing waste built up in the muscles. This is also an ideal time to include developmental or PNF style stretching.
Be it dynamic or static-passive stretching, the benefits can be seen throughout the body:
- It’s great for glutes! Many people live a sedentary lifestyle and spend many hours sitting at a desk. If you sit a lot, your glutes can switch off. Stretching your glutes and hip flexors will help wake back up those muscles.
- It benefits your spine! Your thoracic spine is located in the middle of your back which needs to be kept moving. By doing simple rotational stretches, your spine will thank you for it.
- It’s great for blood flow and posture! Stretching increases your blood flow and circulation. In turn, this sends oxygen to your brain for a clearer mind.
- It will allow you to train better and see more results! By committing to pre and post workout stretches, your range of movement will increase so you can push yourself harder during your training session.
- It helps reduce the likelihood of injury, especially during big compound lifts such as the Squat and Deadlift.
- It also helps build muscle by releasing the tension and restriction inflicted by the fascia. It’s no coincidence that professional bodybuilders can do the splits…
The importance of stretching and understanding different types of stretching is covered in detail in Fitness HQ’s fitness courses which offer a greater understanding of its importance and putting this into action.
At FHQ we hope you found this short blog interesting and useful. If you have any questions on the above or any of our blogs then please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below or call us FREE on 0800 112 3431