19 Jan 2023

Health: A Time To Stretch & A Time To Relax

I have noticed many individuals who jumpstart on a treadmill, or cross-trainer and start working out without giving the least importance to stretching. Even if they do, they spend barely 5 minutes on stretching just one muscle group and leave.
Another thing that is on the minds of every fitness enthusiast is whether one should stretch before, or after, the exercise? I would suggest, whatever fitness goal you have, stretching should be an integral part of your regime as it conditions the body, both before and after a workout. Now, the main concern is to tell you which stretching is appropriate for a warm-up and what should be done to cool down. But, before going further, I would like you to have a brief look at the benefits of stretching.

Benefits of Stretching

Improves Circulation: Good stretching increases blood circulation to the muscles and joints which in turn, brings nutrients to your cells, removes waste by-products in muscle tissues and helps protect you against a host of illnesses-- from diabetes to cardiovascular diseases.  
Increases flexibility: Flexibility decreases as you get older, but you can regain it through proper stretching. If you make stretching a part of your exercise routine, your daily tasks, such as lifting anything up from the floor, or bending to tie your shoes, becomes much less tiring.
Relaxation and stress relief: Proper stretching relaxes tight muscles that often accompany stress. The feeling of relaxation brings a sense of well-being and relief from tension.
For Females: It reduces the severity of painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea).
Although there are many different ways of stretching, they can be grouped into one of two categories: dynamic stretching and static stretching.
DYNAMIC STRETCHING (pre-workout): It means stretching as you are moving. Dynamic stretches are a form of stretching focussed continuous movements to bring the muscle into a stretch --- they are not held. It should not be done before a workout  to get a good warm-up.To get flexibility in your joints and fire up the muscles you will use in your workout, you need to do mobility and activation drills. So, it is always better to start with a full body warm-up, whether doing lower or upper body stretching.
STATIC STRETCHING (post workout): As the name implies, it requires no movement. Static stretching is used to stretch muscles while the body is at rest. It is a form of flexibility training that elongates the muscles by holding the stretch for a particular period of time in a specific stretch position.
This stretching should be performed at the end of a workout to help the body cool down and prevent the muscle from tightening. Thirty seconds is the minimum time to get the benefits of stretching.

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