As with most topics involving the human body, constant research means that the advice we are given is continually being updated and therefore changing. Frustrating? Agreed, but when the new advice is based on medical research it simply should not be ignored.
Stretching can change the way we feel and the way we perform during exercise. There are two main types of stretching; Static and Dynamic.
Before any stretching takes place there should be a Pulse-Raising exercise. Whatever is chosen should start with a low intensity gradually increasing.
Static stretches: These are held for 15-30 seconds and should never be performed before your workout. The heart rate will drop if a pulse raiser has been performed and then your efforts would have been wasted! Stretching cold muscles on the other hand can damage them and the actions of a static stretch may reduce strength in the stretched muscles and the longer the stretch is held the weaker and wobblier they can become. Not a great start!
Save these stretches for after your workout. That is when they will feel really good as well as lengthening out contracted muscles which is vital for a great body shape.
Dynamic stretches: These should be controlled rhythmical movements where the muscle is gradually taken to the full range of movement. This is done to keep the heart rate from dropping too much and prepares the muscles for the movements they are about to perform.
It is during the dynamic stretch phase in my classes that I start to get that feel-good factor kicking in and unless everyone else does too then I am getting something wrong!
Whichever stretches you are doing:
- Enjoy them
- Focus on the body part being stretched
- Never forget to do them
- If you are in my class, SMILE while you do it!