Stretching - we know we have to do it, but few know about the how and why. In this post, we will break it all down.
There are many types of stretching modalities, but here we will hone in on the ones you’ll want to practice, regularly:
Static Stretching - consists of stretching a muscle to its farthest point, and then maintaining or holding that position. This is what people think of when they typically think of stretching.
Dynamic Stretching - involves moving parts of your body and gradually increasing reach, speed of movement, or both. Think swinging your arms or legs, within your range of motion.
Active Stretching - is where you assume a position and then hold it there with no assistance other than using the strength of your agonist muscles. This is the type of stretching you get with yoga.
Besides feeling good, stretching increases flexibility, strength, range of motion, muscular function, and circulation. It is also useful towards preventing injury, and minimizing the wear and tear that regularly training puts on your body and muscles.
Contrary to popular belief, the best time to really stretch a muscle out is AFTER you work that body part out, and not before. In fact, you’ll likely hurt yourself if you stretch a cold muscle, so if you are looking to warm up your muscles a bit, utilize a dynamic warm up before exercising - something like a quick walk for 5 minutes on the treadmill, prior to working legs, for example. If you are looking to warm up for a particular exercise, go through the motion without resistance. For example, bodyweight squats prior to weighted squats.
We’ve mentioned extreme stretching before, in the context of DOGGCRAPP training. In this, holding an extreme stretch (a point in which your muscle is in its maximally elongated position) of a muscle, after training it, for 1-1.5 minutes is said to improve both strength and size of that muscle.
As always, it’s worth mentioning that you should NEVER push a muscle or your body past the point of mild discomfort, treading into pain territory. At risk of tearing something that won’t be easy to repair, always proceed with caution. If something hurts too much, you’re probably pushing it too far. The risk of injury will far outweigh rewards, in this instance. Be mindful when you stretch, to avoid injury.
Stretch smarter, on the regular, to maximize your gains.
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