Stretching: an overview
Stretching consists of exercises designed to develop muscle & articular flexibility. Stretching exercises bend, stretch, lengthen & extend muscles and joints movement.
Experts recommend stretching at least twice a week for 1 minute per exercise to help us maintain our flexibility. As we get older, flexibility/elasticity becomes even more necessary as it helps us move better and reduces the likelihood of an injury. If we face a certain problem like wrong posture, for example, we have to give additional attention to the muscles of the problematic area and spend more time stretching them.
The amount of time you need to devote to stretching depends on the focus, goals, duration, training load and the type of sporting activity. The time can vary, from a few minutes like, for example, 5-10 minutes, to as much as 60 minutes if a whole stretching course is performed.
A simple regular stretching program can keep the flexibility of the muscles & the flexibility of the joints at very good levels, especially if you are at a senior age.
The benefits of stretching are not only limited to dance or sporting activities but also extend to simple daily activities. The different development of various muscles in our bodies and the lack of flexibility & elasticity can lead to a bad posture.
The key to a healthy physical posture is the balance between the strength and the flexibility/elasticity of competing muscles. This balance is best achieved through stretching exercises and programs.
4 good reasons to start stretching:
- Our movements will reach their normal potential.
- To increase flexibility/elasticity and minimize the risk of muscle injury.
- To improve our performance in dancing programs
- To relieve nerves that are pressed by short muscles and create pain.
What’s the benefit for our bodies?
There are many situations in which stretching should be avoided and several other cases where there are restrictions on what kind of exercise someone could choose to do. For example, if stretching is done by people who have increased articular flexibility (hypersensitivity) or if stretching exercises are done incorrectly, they can cause joints to loosen more than what is considered normal. This increased joint laxity maximizes the risk of early osteoarthritis and increases the chance of muscle injuries.
Who should not stretch:
- People with loose joints should avoid stretching exercises. These people do not need stretching, but strength training.
- Stretching should also be avoided if someone has: osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, active injury, inflammation, sprain, stroke or recent broken bones.
- If you are obese, have extensive varicose veins, use cortisone in any form, if your skin has reduced elasticity and stretch marks, if you have had extensive burns, liposuction or other surgery or if you have silicone inserts, you should first consult your physician before performing any program that requires stretching of body areas.