Some people may find stretching to be boring, however it is the single best way to improve your flexibility. An important component of fitness, stretching should always be incorporated into a solid strength and cardio training routine!
The stretches documented in this article will help you to reduce muscle tightness and improve your range of motion leading to a lesser chance of injury and greater strength output in certain movements.
The point of stretching is to apply pressure to stretch or flex a specific muscle/tendon because this improves the muscle’s elasticity, as well as the rate of synovial fluid production in a joint. Synovial fluid lubricates the joint and helps to protect the joints and cartilage by reducing friction.
In most cases, stretching results in increased muscle control by increasing the range of motion around a joint. Therapeutically, stretching can be used to prevent and alleviate cramps and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). These therapeutic effects can be further enhanced by using such self-massage techniques as foam rolling!
Increased Range of Motion
– Over time, repetitive movements tighten the muscles and tendons, resulting in decreased ROM. Regular stretching can increase ROM to a range that corresponds with performance improvements.
Increased Muscle Tone
– Stretching sends signals to strengthen the muscle by accelerating the speed at which muscle building proteins are synthesised.
Warm Up Before A Workout
– By stretching the muscles, tendons and joints you will prepare the body for physical exertion.
– Stretching can produce a euphoric, oxygenating effect in the muscles, which may be useful before competition!
Relax, Recuperate And Prevent Injuries
– Muscular effort, for example in the form of training can compress various joints and the spine. Stretching accelerates recovery and improves the feeling by decompressing the affected areas.
Static Stretching is commonly used in warm-up routines, however studies now show that this results in weakened muscles. For this reason it is recommended to do Dynamic Stretching during your warm up, because doing Static Stretching after exercise has shown to reduce muscle soreness.
Below is a graphic depicting some easy and effective Static Stretches you can do after a workout or on your rest day!
- Extend your arm and grab around a bar or other sturdy stationary object with one hand. Then rotate your body AWAY, while keeping your posture upright. Keep going until you feel a good stretch in the chest, shoulders, and biceps. Hold this for 30-60 seconds and then repeat with the other arm. Do this stretch at least twice for each side.
UPPER BODY STRETCH
- This stretch is quite simple. Grab a chin up bar with both hands and hang from it for as long as your grip will hold out. You’ll pretty much feel the stretch throughout the entire upper torso. You can repeat several times with different grips (i.e. wide, narrow, underhand, overhand, etc.).
- Get down on all four’s for this stretch! Simply extend forward with your arms stretched out in front of you as shown in the picture until you feel a good stretch in the lats and chest. Hold this for 30-60 seconds, take a quick rest and then repeat again.
FRONT DELTS/FOREARMS STRETCH
- Simply start by having your palms face backwards, and apply a pulling pressure until your feel the stretch in your front deltoids and forearms. Hold this for 30-60 seconds, take a quick rest and then repeat again.
- Extend both arms overhead, then bend one arm down behind your head and grab your elbow with the opposite hand. Pull your elbow until you feel the stretch in your tricep and lat. Hold this for 30-60 seconds and then repeat with the other arm. Do this stretch at least twice for each side.
- Using your arms, start by leaning against a wall. Lift one leg up and grab your foot. Proceed by pulling the lifted leg towards your bottom. Hold this for 30-60 seconds and then repeat with the other leg. Do this stretch at least twice for each side.
- Go into a lunge position. Straighten your back leg and lean forward until you feel the stretch in the hamstrings. Hold this for 30-60 seconds and then repeat with the other leg. Do this stretch at least twice for each side.
LOWER BACK/HAMSTRINGS STRETCH
- One of the simplest stretches, just bend over with your legs straight and touch your toes. Hold this for 30-60 seconds, take a quick rest and then repeat again.
There you have it, some simple stretches that are vital for optimal performance and keeping injury free. Remember to do Static Stretching as a part of your cool down or on rest days. Doing Static Stretching as a part of your warm-up could result in weakened muscles! Dynamic Stretching has shown to improve performance when done during your warm up.
Remember that stretching should only take you 5-10 minutes at most!