Stretching: why is it needed and what are the main mistakes?

Many fitness fans, regularly attending intense workouts, often neglect stretching. We decided to find out why stretching is needed and what are the main mistakes that could appear when doing it.

There are many different types of stretching, but all of them can be divided into two large groups:

1. Static stretch.  With this type of stretching, a person takes a certain position in which they freeze for 30-60 seconds. All attention at this moment is directed to the involved muscles. In this case, there should not be strong pain.

2. Dynamic stretching. It implies soft «springing» movements. With each action increases the amplitude of movement, gradually pulling out the muscles.

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Any stretching can be either passive (with the help of a partner) or active (independent).

As for the timing of the stretch, a short dynamic stretch can and should be done before an active workout. This type of stretching warms up the muscles well and serves as a good warm-up. In addition, such actions will help avoid discomfort in the muscles after a workout. Static stretching exercises are great for a hitch or a full-fledged stretching workout.

The main mistakes during stretching

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1. Expectations are too high

There are people who are quite flexible by nature, but for the majority it takes quite a long time to develop muscle elasticity.

For example, girls, first of all, want to learn how to do the splits.  Often they are in a hurry and could make harmful movements, which leads to injury. Flexibility requires patience. It is important to carefully approach stretching in order not to harm yourself. It is advisable to perform exercises under the supervision of a trainer.

2. Stretching too often or too rarely.

Muscles need time to recover, so stretching too often does not make any sense and is simply traumatic. Stretching is about the importance of being systematic.

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3. Strain on ligaments and joints.

It happens along with the muscles, stretched and other tissues, which can lead to unfortunate consequences. To prevent this, when stretching your leg muscles, bend your knees a little, so you will relieve the strain on the ligaments and joints. When working on a transverse split, turn your socks up so as not to overload your ankle.

4. Asymmetrical work

To maintain the balance of the body, you need to stretch the opposite muscles. That is, pulling the left leg, do not forget about the right. As mentioned, stretching not only stretches the muscles, but also helps to relieve fatigue, painful sensation and nervous tension. Long stays in the same position leads to unpleasant sensations in the muscles due to stagnant blood.

So, we are convinced that stretching is needed.  Look at people in their 40s and 50s. In the absence of serious diseases, some people can no longer fully move, getting up from a chair is already becoming a test. But others ride a bike and can easily run. So here they are - the best advertisement for stretching, even if they have never seriously engaged in it.  A good stretch from nature is good, but by doing nothing, it can be lost by adulthood.  

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Stretching helps remove excess fluid from the body, which begins the process of losing weight. If you exercise regularly, then over time, the work of the circulatory and lymphatic systems improves, which contributes to the fight against cellulite. If you want to lose more than 5 kg, then stretching should be combined with strength or cardio loads. It is worth remembering that active training and protein foods contribute to muscle growth. Therefore, you can get rid of the fat layer, but due to muscle mass, the volumes will remain the same. Stretching classes will become more effective if you choose the appropriate diet for weight loss.

If you have not done anything in this direction so far, then it's time to start, in a year you will be grateful to yourself!

Cover photo by Chalo Garcia on Unsplash

Julia Stecher is an award-winning fitness model, professional nutritionist, and certified personal trainer who provides personal training services in Zurich and online.

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