It seems like stretching is a bit like visiting your mother-in-law: everyone knows you have to do it but no one really wants to. Are there any benefits to frequent stretching or is it just something to do while checking your e-mails after a hard day at the gym?
Countless studies have shown that stretching has a multitude of benefits. Not only can it improve your sports performance but also your posture and relieve pain.
Five benefits of stretching
- Maintains and increases flexibility and range of motion. Flexibility is essential to perform activities of daily living and physical activity effectively and pain free
- Improved performance in physical activity. Stretching prepares your muscles for activity which reduces the risk of injury and improves the performance.
- Increased blood circulation. Frequent stretching may improve blood circulation and aid in recovery after activity
- Improves posture. Muscle imbalance can adversely affect your posture. Bad posture can lead to back pain, neck pain and headaches. Studies have also found that people with better posture are perceived as more attractive.
- Stress relief. With effective stretching the body may release endorphins that make you feel more relaxed.
Types of stretching techniques include dynamic, static, ballistic PNF active and passive stretching.
The most commonly static and dynamic stretches are used.
- Static stretches is when you hold a position with a comfortable stretch for at least 30 seconds. Most beneficial effects of this stretch is experienced after activity.
- Dynamic stretches is when you use active movement to stretch and the position is not held. This type of stretching is more beneficial before activity.