Sunday, May 22, 2011

The benefits of exercising: Stretching

I remember that as a child stretching had to be done at the beginning of every

dance,Tae kwondo or gymnastic sessions I participated in. 


 I did not continue in those activities but stretching is a huge part of my daily routine because I soon realized that my body does not feel right unless I make time to stretch at least 15 mns a day upon waking up and stretch as often as needed as the day goes by.

You have probably noticed that, a lot of athlete regardless of the sports they play put a great emphasis on stretching before they start a practice, a game, or a competition etc.
No matter the diversity of sports and activity, stretching is a fundamental practice.


Because people who stretch benefit from more flexibility, stretching is often called flexibility training.
You will agree it takes flexibility for all these...

 

  let's be honest how can we do this unless we have trained our muscles to stretch and be that flexible? It takes training to do this and stretching is practiced with great seriousness to get to this level of flexibility... flexibility training!

You are probably very familiar with the show "Dancing with the stars". Do you realize that it takes professional dancers great flexibility to move as they do? Stretching is the big ingredient to their success that we don't see often. A lot of times we see images and videos of rehearsals, and the amazing performances but we don't see how much emphasis is put in stretching.


 I think  Edgar Degas' art could serve as an hint:





You can tell it takes great flexibility for this: . Yes dancers invest a great amount of time in stretching but if you are not very familiar with dancers I know the following images come more easily to mind ...


 So you might not be an athlete but you might be a big fan of an athletic team, I am sure you have seen your basketball team do something like  this before their games. .

Have you ever asked yourself why stretching is so important? A lot of people do not think much about it and today I wanted to give you some very good reasons to think more about it and to do it more often....
You do not have to be a professional athlete and you don't even have to like exercising to benefit from stretching.

I am a strong believer in stretching regardless of either you are in sports or not.
I truly believe that stretching and walking are the two most important physical activities for our bodies. To me all other form of exercises are complementary. I also see stretching as a great way to get the blood flowing and offer relaxation to my body.

I think our bodies were made to stretch, because we just don't feel right when we don't! I think stretching is natural for us and the more we do it the better we feel.
I mean ask even those creatures  stretching just come naturally for them. Stretching feels so gooood. Before we stretch we feel all tensed and rusty and then as we do it we go like uuuummm...and we feel much better afterward don't we?
 I see my dog Cotton stretches very often and it's amusing to watch how he would stretch himself and keep doing it until he is satisfy. Even he knows how good it feels to stretch!!!
Anyway, back to us humans...

Stretching makes you flexible, allowing your joints the ability to move through a full range of motion.
 Ask any ballet dancers or anyone in Martial Art they would tell you how important stretching is to accomplishing a full range of motion.

Most athletes might agree that the top 2 benefits of stretching are probably
·         Improved performance and decrease risk of injury
·         Reduced muscle soreness


Since stretching improves your flexibility you can better move through a greater range of motion.  Stretching decreases resistance in tissue structure making you less likely to get injured by exceeding tissue extensibility during an activity.

Stretching before and after exercising is always recommended because it reduces muscle soreness.  I certainly appreciate a stretch before and after a cycling class, it's a good thing instructors always make time to guide the students through some stretch.

There is actually about 7 different types of stretching. The one called slow static stretching is the one most people are familiar with. It's a stretch that requires a slow, gradual and controlled elongation of the muscle through the full range of motion. The stretch is held for 15-60 seconds in the furthest comfortable position!
Static stretching is the most common kind of stretching.

Besides those two benefits that stretching could offer athletes or non athletes alike, stretching can benefit you daily by:
·         Improving your posture.
·         Reducing the risk of low back pain because stretching promotes muscular relaxation. Muscular relaxation will reduce the accumulations of toxins, prevent muscle tightening and reduce or relieve fatigue.
A detail to keep in mind is that flexibility from hamstring, hip flexors,
quadriceps and other muscles attached to the pelvic area reduce stress to the lower back.



Please watch the following short video for stretches that benefit your back's health!
You can add to those benefits that stretching will help you to better enjoy any physical activity. After all it's easier to enjoy something when you are not too sore afterward or when you do not injure yourself in the process! It's also great that you can perform very efficiently thanks to a good stretch.



 
But there's more to stretching that's beneficial regardless of the fact that one is in sport or not. Stretching is great and important because everyone can benefit from the way stretching relaxes both the mind and the body. I think it brings the mind to a heightened sense of well-being.
So as you can see, stretching is truly a key component not only to a successful and efficient fitness program but also to a better life and a better health the natural way.  Stretching comes naturally and without it we just don’t feel and move the best. Even if you do not exercise stretching should be part of your daily routine.


Other benefits of stretching in our daily lives:
Something very important to consider is that Stretching is important when you are traveling, as seating for long hours in a plane or car can provoke blood clotting which has been linked to some premature deaths. So whether you are traveling by plane or by car always make sure to get off your seat at least every 1-2 hours and stretch and move around some.

 The same advice is important for people working at their desks for long hours. The lack of energy flow and the muscle contractions you experience will leave your body tense, trap toxins which in turn will increase the risk for tension, back pain, strained eyes etc..


Stretching plays a big part in your overall health. Stretching provides many important benefits that cannot be achieved by any other exercise or activity. You might not be into sports and you might not even care about exercising but please by all means add stretching to you daily routine. Please          

3 comments:

  1. Good read, N'na!I am no athlete, that's for sure, and I relate much better to the pics of the animals stretching rather than the humans. That being said, I started PT a couple of weeks ago (yikes) and guess what I am learned how to do? You guessed it.....stretches. Haaa! You got this right on girl!

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  2. You are so funny Tammy!What made you decide to start P.E? Well it's good you are learning to stretch it's a valuable skills for healthy exercising!

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