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Create An Active Lifestyle

Stretch Therapy: Create a Balanced Body

Last Updated on November 20, 2023 by Create Better Health

Did you know that regular stretching is just as important as regular exercise?  Stretching helps improve flexibility, improves posture, and decreases your chance of exercise-related injuries.  Aside from the physical benefits, stretching also provides time to relax your mind and give your body a chance to recharge.

Just like any type of physical activity, it is important to stretch correctly.  Most of the time you should stretch after you’ve already performed a warm-up exercise (like jogging for 5 minutes) so your muscles are warm.  You should avoid any bouncing while stretching.  Most importantly, always listen to your body.  You want to avoid pushing your muscles too far and causing yourself injury.

Dynamic Stretching vs Static Stretching

  • Dynamic Stretching:
    • Definition: Dynamic stretching involves controlled movements that take your muscles and joints through a full range of motion. It actively prepares the body for physical activity by mimicking the movements you’ll perform during your workout.
    • Benefits: Enhances blood flow, warms up muscles, improves flexibility, and enhances athletic performance. It primes the nervous system and boosts coordination and agility.
    • Ideal for: Individuals engaged in activities that require explosive power, such as running, jumping, and sports. Dynamic stretching is commonly used as part of warm-up routines before dynamic exercises.
  • Static Stretching:
    • Definition: Static stretching involves holding a stretch position for an extended period, typically 20-30 seconds or longer. It aims to elongate the muscle fibers and improve flexibility over time.
    • Benefits: Increases muscle length and flexibility, improves muscle balance, and helps reduce muscle tension. It is beneficial for overall muscle and joint health.
    • Ideal for: Post-workout or during a cooldown session. Static stretching is suitable for activities that demand improved flexibility, such as yoga or activities involving slow and controlled movements.
  • Choosing the Right Stretching Technique:
    • Warm-up: Dynamic stretching is ideal for warming up before dynamic activities like sports, running, or HIIT workouts, as it prepares the body for movement and reduces the risk of injury.
    • Post-workout: After a workout, incorporating static stretches can help relax and elongate muscles, promoting recovery and flexibility over time.
    • Combination: For a comprehensive stretching routine, consider combining both techniques. Begin with dynamic stretches to warm up, followed by your main workout. Afterward, perform static stretches to cool down and promote muscle recovery.

Both dynamic and static stretching play vital roles in improving flexibility and overall fitness. Incorporating the right stretching technique based on your workout and fitness goals will enhance your performance, reduce the risk of injuries, and contribute to a well-rounded exercise regimen. Remember to listen to your body and consult with a fitness professional to design a tailored stretching routine that complements your specific needs.

Try out these stretch movements next time you are looking to get some good stretching in!

stretch therapy
stretch therapy

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The American Council on Exercise

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