Olympic games 2016 just concluded at Rio, and I am sure many of you would be as amazed as me at the performance levels of all the athletes. Whether all of them won a medal or not, is secondary, but the zeal and enthusiasm they showed to participate in the game is worth the applause. Many Nations, many games – all tied with true sportsmanship spirit. The Rio games 2016 were largely a spectacular display of what amazing things a human body can do, except few unfortunate incidents of injury. While the injury can happen anytime to anyone, I wanted to stress on the importance of stretching.
What is stretching?
Trust me, everybody does some kind of stretching at least once in a day. Yes, you read it correct. Try to recall the first thing you do as soon as you get up from the bed. No, I am not talking about coffee or cigarettes or looking in mirror J. You stretch your arms, legs, neck or back, depending on which part is more stiff. Small babies do it all the time, but it seems as we grow up, we forget the need to stretch. Often we do it unconsciously, but if we do it consciously, it can greatly enhance your physical fitness.
You can imagine our muscles as some kind of elastic. Now to get the full range of motion of a muscle, it has to extend long enough, without it being teared or being broken. So we can say that stretching is nothing, but extending our muscle(s) to its optimal length, consciously, to improve muscle’s flexibility. Yoga/Pilates are widely known for stretching exercises. While Yoga is much more than just mere stretching, it offers all the benefits stretching exercise has to offer.
Why Stretching is needed?
Building on the analogy of elastic and muscle, what happens if you try to stretch elastic, which was not stretched for a long time? It either develops cracks or tears completely. I am sure you would not want this as a desirable outcome for your muscles. Usually stretching is to be done after you have performed physical activity, like exercise in a gym, heavy lifting for work, etc. or if the muscle was not used for long time, like sleeping or sitting idle for long time. Among many benefits of stretching, few are mentioned below:
- Helps to maintain elasticity in your muscle, and hence improving range of motion.
- Improves your body posture.
- Reduce the risk of injury.
- Improve blood flow, meaning more oxygen for your body.
- Reduce soreness in muscles.
- Calm the mind and reenergize the body.
How to stretch?
Many people stretch instinctively, like stretching your arms to the sides or top, bend forward/backward while standing or twist your upper torso from your waist etc. there are some special stretches which can be performed by qualified professionals. Sometimes if these stretches are not performed as they should be, they can cause muscle injury also.
When you stretch a particular muscle group, try to hold the stretched position for at least 20 seconds and breath deeper than normal.
I would like to keep the blog short, so as to not to make it boring and too technical, but if you would like to get more information about specific stretching exercise, that relates to your existing physiological conditions, please get in touch with our team of experts at Therapy Point at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Till next blog…keep stretching 🙂