Stretching: One of the most important stages of your recovery!

 Stretching: One of the most important stages of your recovery!

            When it comes to the system of different types of stretching exercises, known by the general term "stretching", we must distinguish between dynamic and static stretching. Dynamic stretching plays an important role in pre-workout warm-ups. We already had the opportunity to talk about this in the previous article on the subject .

Stretching: One of the most important stages of your recovery!

I decided that I had to pay special attention to cooling (cool-down) after a workout, which is impossible without the familiar static stretching exercises. Therefore, in this article I will look at what they are, how they should be performed, what are their benefits and why it is important to perform them only after training .

What is static stretching?


         In static stretching exercises, we gradually take a comfortable position that provokes the stretching of a muscle (or group of muscles), and then we hold the position for a certain period of time - usually between 10 and 30 seconds. Taking the position itself can be done independently (actively) or with someone else's help (passively). In the second case, the intervention of a partner or instructor increases the possibility of stretching.

       Most of you have known static stretching since physical education classes and you can certainly list many of them. Yes, the fact is that this type of exercise is well known and is performed often, but in most cases at the wrong time!

When should we perform static stretching exercises?

Static stretching

      Due to many years of wrong practice, there is still controversy on this issue, but research in this direction has long shed light and has given the final correct answer. It can be found in two consecutive studies published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research and the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports.

       The first study concluded that static stretching exercises before strength training are inappropriate because they reduce muscle strength and cause instability in the joints (which increases the risk of injury ). The second study came to exactly the same conclusion, stating that this applies to all types of sports activities.

       This is not the case when static stretching exercises are performed after exercise. The opinion that they are suitable for good recovery after training has been expressed by a number of authoritative scientists, such as Peter McNair (2000) [1] and Dwayne Knudson (2001) [2]. Let's see why!

Why is it important to stretch after a workout?

Stretch after warm up

    As you know, at the end of any intense workout, the most important thing is to slow down and normalize your heart rate . Abrupt cessation of movement does not contribute to this, on the contrary, blood circulation is disrupted, the flow of oxygen to the brain becomes insufficient, leading to an unpleasant feeling of fatigue, dizziness and even dizziness.

      That is why stretching must intervene here. Performing it gives the body the necessary time to normalize the heart and respiratory rhythm and improve blood circulation, which in turn leads to cooling of the muscles and proper recovery.

      Stretching exercises appear as a "bridge" between the end of training and the beginning of the recovery process. They allow this to happen in the right way - smoothly and gradually!

Benefits of stretching

     Stretching after a workout helps to restore the body both physiologically and psychologically.

1. Reduces muscle pain

    After intense strength training, due to the accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles, symptoms of stiffness, tension, cramps and pain often appear . Stretching allows the lactic acid to dissipate. Of course, this does not solve the problem completely, but it helps to relieve muscle fever. It also allows the muscles to relax, which reduces the risk of subsequent injury.

2. Increases range of motion

       The greater range of motion allows you to take advantage of maximum muscle capacity during strength training, which leads to better results in the long run. In itself, a larger range of motion means an increased ability to perform movements with a larger amplitude, or in short - helps to be more flexible in any activity.

3. Increases flexibility

       Undoubtedly, this is one of the most significant benefits of stretching, because as is well known, flexibility is an important aspect of any physical activity. It helps reduce muscle tension and allows the shortened muscle groups to recover quickly by returning to the starting position. Mostly thanks to it, your training will be far more effective, because it helps to perform each exercise with the right technique and shape and to cope more easily with difficult exercises such as deep squats.

4. Calms the mind and gives energy

    When, instead of rushing home, you stay in the gym for another 15 minutes and stretch, you are actually allowing the brain to connect with the body and understand how it feels. The brain "sees" that the body is recovering, and is "very happy" with this fact because it releases endorphins. Of course, I'm talking figuratively - the brain can't see and feel - but it does release neurotransmitters that create a sense of pleasure. For this reason, once you finish stretching, you will feel calm and full of energy.

Of course, to enjoy and experience all these benefits, you need to perform the exercises correctly.

How to stretch safely

      You already know the first and most important rule - static stretching should be done only with well-heated muscles.

Choose a set of exercises to suit your current capabilities.

It is important to do the exercises calmly and carefully, without rushing and without making sudden movements.

You avoid severe pain. To perform this type of exercise properly, you do not need to show the flexibility of gymnasts, doing a full split. When taking a stretching position, stop and hold where you begin to feel tolerable pain.

The duration of each stretching exercise depends on the number of repetitions. Holding the stretching position must last at least 10 seconds. In most cases, it lasts somewhere between 10-30 seconds.

Do not hold your breath while stretching - breathe freely and deeply . Proper breathing will contribute to your calmness and balance.

Emphasize this muscle group where the load was greatest during the actual workout.

If you have trained more muscle groups, start with exercises for those in the upper body and then move on to those in the lower.

Start with stretches in which you are upright and end with those that require you to lie down.

To have the maximum effect of stretching, it must be performed after absolutely every workout.

In conclusion

If stretching exercises have not been a priority for you in the gym so far, it's time to become one. Dynamic stretching exercises, included in the warm-up and static for cooling and recovery are the way to achieve maximum results, while protecting yourself from injuries that are so undesirable for every athlete!

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