According to the American College of Sports Medicine, it is highly recommended to stretch each of the major muscle groups at least two times per week for 60 seconds. Stretching is a means of elongating muscle fibers to achieve optimum physical performance. Most physical therapists, trainers, and health experts always promote stretching because it provides various benefits to the body.
Major stretching benefits:
• Increased movement efficiency
• Decreased risk of injury
• Increased blood supply and nutrients to joint structures
• Increased neuromuscular coordination
• Decreased risk of low back pain
• Reduced muscular tension
• Improved balance and postural awareness
There are two kinds of stretches, static stretch and dynamic stretch. Static stretch is stretching a muscle to the full extent of your ability and holding it for 15 to 30 seconds. On the other hand, dynamic stretch moves a muscle group fluidly through an entire range of motion. Keep in mind with any stretch, static or dynamic, it is important to feel a stretch, but you should not feel pain. It is not necessary to stretch before exercise because it is not proven to help prevent injury, curb muscle soreness after exercise, or improve your overall performance during your workout.
However, it is recommended to warm up before any exercise program. Remember, to start slowly, and gradually increase intensity as you continue your workout.
On the other hand, it is recommended to stretch after exercise because your body is more flexible, and the circulation to the muscles and joints increase.
So, the next time you are planning your daily exercise routine, it is important to include stretching after your exercise. This can be done when you wake up in the morning, before bed time, during breaks at work, after your exercise routines.
Remember, staying flexible as you age allows for better range of motion as well as less falls or injuries.