Stretching exercises improve muscle recovery after strength training. They are a necessary part of a weight loss, wellness, or strength training plan. Muscle stretching is necessary for athletes, dancers and ordinary office workers. Physical inactivity, an unnatural posture when working at a computer, “walking” while sitting in a car – all this tacks muscles, deprives the joints of their natural range of motion and requires that a person include stretching exercises in the training program. You can stretch every time after strength or cardio, devoting to the main muscle groups for 30 seconds, or you can allocate a stretching workout in one day. For beginners, exercises are shown in a natural amplitude, without “springs” and pushing the body into a pose through pain. Such movements can be performed at home on your own.
In short, stretching is the only chance for the body to compensate for all those overloads and axial loads that we experience during strength work and everyday activity. Only during stretching, the joints do not experience compression, which is the best prevention of inflammation. Plus, stretching improves mobility at home and relieves pain.
The benefits of stretching are:
- Relieves muscle stiffness, gives the ability to move freely;
- Helps with plasticity and grace even for those who have obvious problems here;
- Improves joint mobility;
- Helps to perform strength exercises with correct technique;
- Provides blood and oxygen to muscles for recovery;
- Relaxes the central nervous system;
- Strengthens ligaments and neuromuscular connections;
- Works with coordination of movements;
- Helps to move smoother and more accurately in dance and martial arts;
- Removes posture imbalances
People in the street know only one type of stretching – this is when a person stretches a muscle himself, calmly and smoothly. Few people know, but besides this there are exercises that are generally not associated in any way in the minds of the masses with stretch, but nevertheless, they are stretching. So, by type, exercises can be divided into:
- Ballistic stretching is a fast sweeping movement that can be seen in the arsenal of fighters and gymnasts, it is prohibited in fitness, since with low joint mobility and lack of control over the center of the body, it can lead to injury;
- Passive stretching – A trainer or massage therapist pulls the client’s muscles while he is just trying to relax. Despite the cute description, it is painful and unpleasant. The success of the event depends entirely on the qualifications of the trainer and the ability to relax;
- Active – we stretch “the old fashioned way” ourselves, adopting a posture for stretching and putting pressure on the stretched muscle group, the most popular type of stretching available to beginners, at home and for independent development;
- Static – in general, it is synonymous with active stretching in a static position. But in Russian-language sources, the phenomenon is associated with the training of yogis and gymnasts. In fact, any exercise in which movement occurs only due to the natural stretching of the muscles can be called static;
- Dynamic – Stretching exercises are movements performed in full amplitude, but without weights. An example is a warm-up before an aerobics lesson where the client shifts weight from one leg to the other, or does a series of deep squats to warm up the legs. Dynamic stretching also includes types of stretch, when the muscle tension is slightly weakened, in order to then strengthen it due to the greater amplitude in the muscles.
Basic stretching guidelines for beginners
Beginners should not stretch aggressively in a ballistic or dynamic style. Dynamic elements are allowed, but they must be performed in an anatomically natural plane and under control. For example, you should not “push” yourself into a lateral split on the floor, you can only spring a little in the position when the legs are raised up against the wall and spread apart.
Important: Beginners should follow a simple rule – stretching is performed either after a workout or after a thorough warm-up. Warming up involves gently raising your heart rate with simple aerobic exercise, followed by a series of whole-body movements. Universal warm-up – exercises for the press, push-ups and squats.
Recommendations for beginners:
- Don’t start with twines . It’s great and impressive, of course, but you can easily get injured. If the goal is a transverse split, first stretch the adductor and abductor muscles of the thighs, as well as the back of the legs, then stretch the legs raised up “at the corner” for a while. Gradually, from workout to workout, you can move on to a smooth twine stretch. But usually you need to devote 3 months to this work to see serious progress. For many, the transverse twine is technically simpler, it requires a good stretch of the back and front of the thighs, and this is what you need to concentrate on;
- The back muscles are the most overlooked group in terms of stretching. Not only “cats and dogs”, but also back deflections should be in the program. A workout program supplemented with good back stretching is more effective than a plan that only stretches the legs and arms. It is believed that it is easier to sit on a split for a person whose back is flexible and mobile than for someone who does not have the ability to bend his back;
- Warm up efficiently – you don’t even need to do simple stretches without first warming up. And they don’t replace warm-ups in and of themselves. Stretching helps to get rid of muscle clamps and spasms only under one condition – the person does not stretch for cold muscles;
- The presence of severe pain , especially in a joint, ligament, or muscle is a signal to stop the stretching exercise. Discomfort and a slight feeling of resistance are normal, severe pain is not. It is necessary to stretch gently, not aggressively, and not exceed the body’s capabilities in order to achieve a result without “kickbacks” due to injuries;
- You do not need to stretch on holding your breath , perform exercises from body flex or other gymnastics with holding your breath, if the body is not ready for this. Hypoxia has a bad effect on the elasticity of muscle fibers and this can only be “forgiven” by the human body, which does not stretch too deeply, or does not hold its breath for long;
- Copying other practitioners , the competitive spirit and other joys of social life in joint training, leave to those who have been practicing for a long time. You need to pull the muscles, listening to your own feelings, and not force events;
- Sliding , minus stretching, putting pieces of fabric under your feet to glide better are also bad ideas when it comes to fitness beginners. It is worth working only with your own body until the flexibility and mobility of the joints improves, and the muscles become more elastic