Did you know that regular stretching is just as important as regular exercise? Stretching helps improve flexibility, improves posture, and decreases your chance for 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.
There are three main types of stretches, static, dynamic, and ballistic.
- Static stretches target a muscle (or a muscle group) and stretches it to its farthest point, maintaining that position for a predetermined length of time. It is best to perform static stretches after exercise in order to improve your flexibility. These stretches are usually relaxing to perform and can be used to lower your heart rate and cool your body down.
- Dynamic stretches use controlled, continuous movements that mimic the activity you are about to participate in. This type of stretching keeps your muscles warm and your heart rate up. Dynamic stretching should be done as part of your warm up before you exercise to prepare your body for the activity it is about to perform.
- Ballistic stretches use repetitive bouncy movements to stretch a targeted muscle group. This type of stretching increases your risk for injury and is generally not recommended for everyday use.
Try out these stretch movements next time you are physically active. Enjoy!