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Stretching Essentials

Jan 23, 2012

Fitness professionals tell us that stretching is a must after exercise. Besides the fact that it feels amazing, what does it actually do for the body? Some studies have shown that the main benefits of stretching are: improved athletic performance and decreased risk of activity-based injury.
Stretching helps to improve joint mobility and stability allowing for greater range of motion when performing your workout routine. It also increases blood flow in your muscles decreasing soreness from exercise. Now that we know the benefits of stretching, there are some stretching essentials that must be covered according to mayoclinic.com. Stretching should not be your warm-up before exercising.
Stretching cold muscles may actually cause injury. The best way to warm-up is to walk, jog or perform some form of activity that increases the heart rate and warms the muscles for 5-10 minutes. Stretching is best after you have completed your workout routine. Make sure to stretch the major muscle groups such as, hamstrings, quads, hips, back, neck and arms. Also stretch the muscles that you use the most throughout your day, this will help to alleviate tension and reduce stress in the body. DO NOT bounce when stretching.
Bouncing actually creates small tears in the muscle fibers causing scar tissue. Scar tissue in the muscles will actually decrease flexibility and cause you to be more prone to pain. Make sure to hold each stretch for about 15-30 seconds.Stretching should not be painful, only slight tension should be felt in the muscle groups that are being stretched. The muscles that you focused on the most in your workout are the ones that should receive the most attention in your post-workout stretching routine. So, if you had a lower body workout day, stretch all of the lower body muscles groups, from lower back all the way to calves.
Keep in mind that in order for stretching to truly be beneficial, it must be performed regularly, at least 3 times per week. Follow these stretching essentials after your workout routines and you will start to notice the improvements in your range of motion and flexibility very quickly!

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