Does stretching help at all or not? Find out more.
It should be no secret that you should stretch both before and after a physical activity. It is a crucial part of both warm up and cool down exercises. However, the jury is out on that so to speak, it is now coming out that it may actually cause MORE injuries. Stretching is beneficial beyond just the everyday workout that comes to mind for most of us including myself. Stretching help ease the pains that result from our daily activities. Stretching everyday benefits the body greatly in more ways that you probably know.
Does stretching help increase your height?
I can assume with some assurance that growing up, your parents told you that stretching in the morning would help you grow tall. (as tall as a tree if you had my particular mother!) Science has yet to prove that, especially after puberty, however, there are proven benefits to stretching daily. What stretching actually does is improve your body and mind. Stretching regularly increases flexibility. With better and more flexibility, we find that your heart beats stronger, your overall circulation improves vastly, and you have a greater range of motion which allows you to exercise with ease. It is proven that if you stretch regularly, you will find you have more energy based on just those effects alone. Those facts did not exactly floor me when I researched and read them. Perhaps it was just logic in my mind, what really got me interested was the scientifically proven effect that stretching imposes on your psyche.
Regular stretching exercises, or flexibility exercises, have become essential components in the workout world. It does our bodies good from the inside out, but how? Well, I’ll tell you how. Daily or frequent flexibility exercising promotes better posture, and also reduces tension and relieve stress. If you participate in stretches which stimulate targeted areas of pain and ache, you can actually pull your muscles out of spasm or even align your bones. Because stretching feels good on the body, it benefits our minds greatly. It is proven that those who stretch regularly have less muscle related pains in common areas, such as the back, or neck, and are generally happier because they simply do not live life with the nagging pain of bad posture throughout the days, months, and years.
Stretching is broken down into two basic forms: they are assisted and unassisted stretching exercises. Assisted stretching help push your body to the limit, because they require you to have a partner there to assist you in the stretch, allowing for more movement and aid in holding the position that is most likely impossible to hold otherwise. Although, while performing an assisted stretch, it is best and recommended that you either work out with a trusted friend or professional. For those of you reading this that would much rather just work out alone, there are ways to do so. These could be workout bands, gravity and your own body weight, but be warned that if you do it alone and you get stuck you will absolutely have to get out of the stretch alone and risk serious injury. Although it is proven that these stretches do improve your flexibility, they are not proven to or recommended for bettering performance in recreational activities such as swimming or other popular sports.
Unassisted stretches, also known as active stretches, are executed by means of stretching one isolated muscle or area of the body while simultaneously contracting or relaxing another muscle. These stretches are more challenging because you are holding them entirely on your own. Although these stretches are more challenging, they are proven certainly more beneficial than the assisted stretches. These stretching help in certain areas including, but are definitely not limited to, improvements in sports performance, flexibility, strength and posture.
Can stretching help with your flexibility training?
If you are going to embark on the wonderful world of flexibility training, you should probably get familiar with the terms static stretching and dynamic stretching. Static stretches are, in the opinion of myself and the general consensus, are generally easier because they are only held for short periods of time, seconds even. Typical static stretches can be either assisted or unassisted and range only about 10-45 seconds normally. Holding your position for a short amount of time could be difficult, you should feel a good amount of tension, but never ever should you feel pain. If you find that you are having pain from doing these or any stretches, it’s okay to ease up to the point where there is just tension. Your body will build up a tolerance and will eventually become incredibly flexible if you just keep at it regularly. Static stretches are a staple in the average warm up and cool down exercise routines. It is proven that while static stretches do increase your flexibility, they can slow down muscle activation or response for a while proceeding after your workout. It is recommended that you warm up with at least fifteen minutes of jogging or bike riding before you begin to stretch even something as simple as a static stretch, and you should avoid them no matter how good they feel before a big game or other sports related competition because they could hinder your ability.
On the flip side of that same coin, dynamic stretching help in enhancing athletic performance and are in fact specifically engineered for just that. So do not fret basketball and football jocks, there is something here to help you and prevent you from getting injured so easily. Dynamic stretches are centered on movements which stretch whole parts or targeted areas of your body depending on the stretch and the execution. A few examples of this kind of exercise could be arm circles, or torso twists. Dynamic stretching help warm up the body, increase blood flow, and increase flexibility. It is the perfect pre-game activity because of it! This is not the same as a bouncing stretch where you do small sets of stretches, those are more closely related to static stretches and actually are linked with increased injury in muscles and joints alike.
I hope you feel inspired to wake up tomorrow, or walk to a clear spot on your floor and really stretch your body out. If done correctly, it can really help your body throughout from the tip of your toes to the bottom of your brain.