Benefits of Stretching

By Long Nguyen

As many of you may already know, stretching allows you to maintain your body’s flexibility. But there have been numerous debates that stretching does help reduce injuries yet at the same time others conclude that it does not prove to have any benefits in how you perform. Nevertheless, from all the physical activities I’ve experienced during the military and after the military, stretching have always shown to improve my strength, agility, thus reducing the amount of injuries on my body. You be the judge!

So why should we stretch before participating in any physical activity? Stretching as I’ve said earlier support your body towards better flexibility thus allowing your joints to move with ease. Stretching is one of the key elements to having a better workout as well as warming up. Normally, if I don’t stretch before running, my legs will tend to feel stiff and I would sometime have cramps and even soreness in some parts of my legs. Even if I drink a lot of fluids such as water or electrolytes these affect still occurs if I don’t stretch. Some people don’t stretch simply because their lazy or other may feel that it doesn’t benefit them in anyway. You decide what affects it have or doesn’t have!

Tricep stretch
Triceps Stretch
Bring one hand down towards the center of your back, with the other hand grab your elbow and pull it towards the other side (or where you feel comfortable).

Should I stretch before or after? Stretching before and after physical activities allows your body to recover stamina and at the same time reduces the amount of injury while your exercising. Stretch before you warm up and after you cool down. When I’m at the gym I’ve notice that as my heart is pounding and as I do stretches that force me to put my head upside down such as leg stretches, I tend to feel light headed.

What positive outcome does stretching offers? There are numerous reasons but these are some of it:

1. Reduces injuries, providing flexibility
2. Allow good posture
3. Better results, as in your performance and health
4. Can allow your muscle to grow better
5. Benefits greatly long-term, as you age.

Don’t just go through the motion of stretching as some people do. Do it the right way or else you’ll just be wasting your time. Stretch all parts of the body where possible, or more if you plan on working in a particular area. If you plan on running, emphasize more on your legs.

Back Stretch
Back Stretch
Interlock your hands and extend your arms so that it is parallel to the ground then rotate your palms so that it is facing outwards; push your arms outwards as if you were trying to push an object, thus focusing on the upper back muscle.

You should do each stretches for about 10 to 15 seconds while relaxing your body. I normally stretch for about 5 to 10 minutes depending on what stretches you are doing; some may take longer then others such as the quad stretch were you need to maintain your balance.

Transition slowly as you switch between each stretches so that you won’t sprain a muscle or hurt yourself. If you feel uncomfortable about certain types of stretches change it up and do other ones. There are hundreds of stretches that even myself have yet to learn. So be creative and try to mix it up. For better results, work towards perfection!

Butterfly Stretch
Butterfly Stretch
Sitting on the ground, keep your back straight, put your feet together, bring your ankle closer towards your mid section, put your elbows on your thighs and push down as far as you can (where you feel comfortable) while maintaining good form.

Leg Stretch
Leg Stretch
Sitting on the ground, extend one leg in front of you, bend your other leg so that your feet is almost touching your inner thigh, overlap your hands and reach towards your feet.

calf stretch
Calf Stretch
Bring one foot forward, angled at about 45 degrees keeping both legs fully extended and locked, overlap your hand and reach down towards the tip of your toes (or further if you can).

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