What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning? You stretch. Stretching feels good and it’s important to engage in regular stretching exercises in order to maintain a flexible and healthy body.
Some benefits to stretching include:
- Reduced muscle tension
- Greater range of joint movement
- Increased blood flow to parts of the body
- This increased blood flow adds to a greater amount of energy
First we need to define the two main kinds of basic stretching exercises: These are static stretches and dynamic stretches. Most likely static stretching comes to mind when you think about stretching exercises. This is when you stretch a muscle and hold that position for a few seconds.
Dynamic stretching exercises on the other hand stretch your muscles with the use of movement. For example when your warming up before an exercise or physical activity and your swinging your arms back and forth across your chest you are performing dynamic stretches. Basically you are taking your arms and legs and using movement to make them reach their full range of motion.
Static and dynamic are the most common forms of stretching. Other stretching exercises include:
- Passive Stretching: This is similar to static stretching except that a partner applies the stretch to the muscle
- Ballistic Stretching: Ballistic stretching is similar to dynamic stretching exercises. With ballistic stretching your forcing your body part to go beyond its normal range of motion by making it bounce to a full stretch. This stretching exercise can be dangerous because it may lead to injury. Because of this only a conditioned athlete should perform ballistic stretches.
- Active Isolated Stretching: Active Isolated Stretching is when you attain a position and hold it using only the strength of your muscles. For example holding your leg up high and staying in that position for 10 seconds. The idea behind these stretching exercises is that one muscle contracts in order for you to hold the position while the other muscle relaxes.
- Isometric Stretching: When performing an isometric stretch you stretch a muscle, then you begin to resist the stretch. Isometric stretching exercises are great with partners. For example your partner holds your leg up while you try to force your leg back down in the opposite direction.
Performing stretching exercises is important for people of all ages and fitness levels. Stretching increases a joints range of motion which means your joints can move further before they are over stretched and an injury occurs.
Working stretching exercises into your workout routine is a great way to increase flexibility, joint movement, and blood flow. Stretching will also help you feel better and in turn give you more energy to do the things you love. Remember, it’s important for you to warm up and do light exercises before you perform stretching exercises. Stretching cold muscles can cause injury.
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