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The Evolution of Stretching

Sep 2, 2015

Throughout the centuries, there has been much development when it comes to stretching. We have gone from having no information and placing no importance on stretching, to having several resources to help inform us and guide us on which stretches are appropriate for different situations.
In the 1800s, it is believed that men and women would exercise in their finest suits and dresses. Although there are photographs of some exercise machines that appear to help with flexibility, there wasn’t really any formal research done on stretching. Also, the exercise attire that they wore would strongly hinder participants in achieving full range of motion and would make it almost impossible to perform certain stretches.
In the late 1900s, stretching was performed much more regularly, but not always correctly. A lot of exercise routines would start out with static stretches, which we now know can do more harm than good. Many stretching routines would also neglect the major muscles that are being worked, and some might not hold stretches for a long enough time. I can remember in high school, our cross country team would hold each stretch for only about 10 seconds before and after every practice.
Now, in 2015, we have much more research and information available to us in regards to stretching. We know the importance of stretching and flexibility, and we even have exercise routines dedicated solely to improving one’s flexibility (i.e. yoga). We know that before an exercise routine, dynamic stretches are much safer and more effective than static stretches, which should be performed at the end of an exercise program and should be held for at least 20 seconds each. However, not all stretches are appropriate or even possible for some, so learning different types of stretches and different methods of stretching will be most beneficial for all types of exercisers. A personal trainer can be a great educator on which stretches are best for you. Find one at Fitness Together!

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