Many people mistakenly assume that we should stretch only before a workout. However, this is wildly incorrect. In fact, many experts recommend stretching in between each phase of exercise. This includes stretching after a warm-up. At Farmingdale Physical Therapy West, we can’t stress how important it is to stretch properly, each time you exercise.
Stretching keeps your muscles flexible, strong and healthy. Of course, we need that in order to maintain range of motion in our joints. Eventually, our muscles shorten and tighten. As a result, they can’t function as needed when the time comes to exercise. In this post, we’ll explore stretching, its goals and benefits, and some common mistakes people make when stretching.
4 Main Goals of Stretching:
Of course, it might seem like there’s only one simple goal of stretching: to prevent any muscular pain. According to sports trainer Brad Walker, author of The Anatomy of Stretching, stretching accomplishes four main goals.
1. Improve range of movement to achieve greater comfort and enhanced mobility
2. Increase muscle power and balance
3. Reduce post-exercise soreness
4. Decrease fatigue by taking pressure off working muscles
Added Benefits of Stretching
When done correctly, Michael J. Alter, author of Sport Stretch and Science of Flexibility, claims that the benefits of stretching also include:
- Enhanced cardio and physical fitness
- Ability to learn and perform skilled movements
- Increased mental and physical relaxation
- Reduced risk of injury to joints, muscles and tendons
- Reduced severity of painful menstruation in females
Common Stretching Mistakes
Unfortunately, when stretches are done incorrectly, these benefits are nonexistent. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you’re stretching correctly and research proper form and technique. Some of the most common mistakes made when stretching are: improper warm-up, inadequate rest between resistance training, wrong form and over-stretching.
In order to avoid these mistakes, make a commitment to yourself to stretch regularly, at least three to four times a week. You want to make sure you are stretching safely too. Stretching shouldn’t hurt or be done forcefully. Stretch to a slight discomfort, not a painful one. Try some dynamic stretches to engage as many muscles as you can. Don’t forget to always warm up first!
Conclusion – Farmingdale Physical Therapy West
Sometimes, the idea of stretching every time you exercise might seem overwhelming. In this case, you may feel you can proceed with your workout or weight loss journey without it. However, as physical therapists, we can’t stress how inadvisable this is. If for no other reason, be sure to stretch for the purpose of avoiding an injury that will require future treatment.