What is stretching?
Stretching is a physical activity that elongates the muscles being used. According to Professor Davis from Lehigh University, what actually happens during a stretch is very complex. He said, “Each muscle contains stretch receptors which attach themselves to the working part of the muscle called, muscle fibres. The stretch receptors measure the degree of the stretch, sending a message through the spinal cord to the nerves that control the contraction of the muscle where the receptors are.”
The 2 main types of stretching are:-
1. Static stretching
Static stretching means a stretch is held in a challenging but comfortable position for a period of time, usually somewhere between 10 to 30 seconds. It is the most common form of stretching found in general fitness and is considered safe and effective for improving overall flexibility.
1. Dynamic stretching
Dynamic stretches are active movements where joints and muscles go through a full range of motion. They can be used to help warm up your body before exercising. It can be functional and mimic the movement of the activity or sport you're about to perform.
When it comes to pre-workout stretching, it helps your body to become more flexible, which decreases the risk of injury. You want to stretch the main muscle groups that you plan on working during that exercise session. For example, if you’re going to be running, or doing lower body strength exercises, you probably want to stretch your hamstrings, quads, glutes, and calves.
You’d want to do these leg stretches standing, and holding each position for about 10 seconds. You want to keep your heart rate elevated to around the same level – slightly elevated so that you’re pushing more blood into your muscles during your stretching program.
Post stretches are just as or if not more important than stretching prior to your workout, after your warm-up. The main muscles groups used during the session are the ones that need to stretch. Post-workout stretches are great for helping your body to move excess lactic acid out of your muscles, which can help you avoid post-workout soreness. Post-workout stretches also help get the muscle back to their original length.