10 Must-know tips for effective stretching
Stretching has many benefits. Stretching improves your circulation, it gives you an increased range of motion, it improves your posture and it will give you more flexibility. If you do stretching exercises every day, you will be amazed at how quickly you can start to feel the difference and, to get you started, here are ten must-know tips for effective stretching:
1. Stretching isn’t supposed to hurt
The first thing you need to know about stretching is that it shouldn’t hurt. If it does hurt, then you are pushing things too far, too fast. A slight twinge is fine, but a severe, shooting pain means that you could be doing some damage.
2. Do your stretching daily
To gain the maximum benefit from stretching, it is best to build it into your daily routine. Just ten minutes a day and you will begin to see improvements in your flexibility, your balance and your strength.
3. Stretch and hold
For each stretch that you do, hold the stretched position for between 15 and 30 seconds. Don’t try and overstretch though, as this will cause the muscles to contract and it can cause very small tears in the muscle fibres.
4. Start off gently
The best time to do stretching is to make it a part of the warm up and cool down periods of your usual workout routine. Start off gently though, and gradually increase the intensity of your stretching. You won’t become flexible overnight!
5. Breathe normally
Just breathe normally when stretching. There is no need to do special breathing exercises or, hold your breath until you are red in the face.
6. Warm up before you stretch
Stretching cold muscles can damage them, so do a gentle warm up before you begin. A little bit of jogging on the spot or going for a short walk will increase your heart rate and warm up the muscles sufficiently for you to begin your stretching exercises.
7. Don’t do repetitive stretching
Repetitive stretching, or bouncing, is not a good idea for most people. Some professional athletes do practice bouncing but, for the rest of us, relaxed, gradual stretching is far better and far safer too.
8. Be aware of your posture
A common mistake that people make when stretching, is that they do so with poor posture. For example, when they bend down to touch their toes, they do so with a hunched back, rather than bending from the hips. Always maintain a good posture, with your back straight or you will be putting unnecessary strain on your neck and your spine.
9. Stretch opposing muscle groups
A stretching routine should be balanced, throughout your body. Balance your stretching by working on opposing muscle groups. For example, stretch the muscles in the back of your thigh and then stretch the muscles in the front.
10. Vary your routine and make it fun
Like any exercise routine, stretching can become boring, if you do the same exercises every day. Varying your routine, or doing to music, will help alleviate the boredom. You could also take yoga classes as another way to add some interest to your stretching.
What are your best tips for effective stretching?