For stretching to have any dynamic impact it has to be done DAILY. Stretching is no longer seen as an idle add-on to a workout. Studies have proven that it has more powerful benefits that we thought.
Fitness has become a competitive sport for some. Many of us now “train” with the intensity of a professional athelete. The rise in “explosive ” forms of exercise such as Cross-fit, Spinning, and HIIT are in the short term making us fitter and stronger. Longterm however these types of exercise programs if not combined with some dynamic stretching, think Yoga on a regularly basis lead to joint wear and tear and imbalances in the skeletal structure.
We need to take stretching more seriously says David Nolan a PT who works at Harvard Massachusetts General Hospital. Stretching is just as important as regular exercise in keeping our muscles, ligaments and joints healthy.
Is there a right or a wrong way to stretch?
Yes. Static type stretching (5 minute warm up) can cause micro tears in the muscles and tension in the ligaments. Here’s how to understand this a little better. The Body and Brain is always trying to protect us, so it has a mechanism called the Golgi Tendon Organ. For example when you initial go to stretch your hamstrings the opposite muscle must engage. In this case the Quadriceps. So for a few seconds the Hamstrings actually get tighter to protect the joint while the brain and body catch up. You can also think of it this way. Muscles pull bones, so if muscles are tight then so is the joint.
This is why we recommend dynamic stretching which improves your range of motion with out harm, and acts as a counter balance or antidote to explosive exercise routines.
Another reason to stretch daily is to counter balance the hours spent sitting hunched over screens and phones. Many studios are now adding more dedicated stretching classes to their offerings, but for those who can’t find the time to go to a class aim for at least 10-15 minutes a day.
Start with 10minutes when you wake up to encourage blood flow and improve circulating oxygen. Doing this will provide a nice boost in energy levels. Then aim for 5 minutes at night to release the tension of the day and prepare you for rest and healing. (think child’s pose)
Stretching is one of the best things you can do for the body and the mind.
Have a healthy week