The importance of stretching

stretches before the game.
stretches before the game.

Many people have no time for stretching. We live busy lifestyles. We are always in a rush. We complete our workouts and dash out of the gym. The truth is, we all stretch. When we wake up in a morning. When we stand up from being seated for long periods. We’re doing it without realising it, but we’re actually stretching.

Flexibility plays a massive role in performance. A regular stretching routine aids development in flexibility. The aim is to improve mobility and stability around the joint. Adequate flexibility is required for optimal performance in all areas of sport and daily life.

Ryan Donohue, owner of Fitness Formation.

Ryan Donohue, owner of Fitness Formation.

Our muscles tighten or shorten once the body cools after exercise resulting in a decrease in range of motion (ROM) in the joints. Flexibility reduces the chance of injury while retaining a full range of motion to ensure efficient and effective movement in sporting and day-to-day activity.

Several benefits of a consistent stretching routine increased circulation, increased ROM, increase in performance, reduced risk of injury, reduced muscle fatigue and improved posture.

There are a few influences on our flexibility and mobility. Some of them are obvious. Some not so. Age is arguably the biggest factor. A reduction in elasticity lends itself to tightness as we age. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, you’re more likely to have less flexibility than someone who is active on a regular basis. Gender is a factor. Females win the day on this one with generally more ROM than males. Let’s look at two types of stretches.

Dynamic – Dynamic stretching is mainly performed at the beginning of a training session to prepare the body for exercise as a part of your warm up routine. All movements are performed to work the muscles through a full range of motion under control.

Static – Static stretching is most commonly used at the end of a training session although some may use it to decrease the involvement of certain muscles in order to engage other muscles used in the performance of an exercise. Static stretches are effective for returning muscles to a correct resting length ensuring they are not in a shortened position. Stretches are held for around 30 seconds in a post workout routine.