Sometimes it seems that what the experts believed to be “good” for us yesterday, today gets adamantly confirmed to no longer be good for us. Nutrition, movement and sleep are all under examination. To be reviewed and re-evaluated. That’s the case with stretching, a a word that’s become part of our every day vocabulary. In english language dictionaries they simply define stretching as lengthening and distending. In Italians dictionaries they go as far as inserting an opinion. A translation: stretching exercises, muscle extension, practiced specifically by athletes and serves to increase the elasticity of the muscles, allowing them to perform intense efforts, improving movement capability and contributing to athletes feeling less fatigue.
But does stretching really do all that for us?
It’s actually been several years now that fitness experts have been discussing the pros and cons of stretching for athletes. If you look at track or, simply, at a city park, you’ll find runners devoting a lot of their workout time to stretching exercises. Sometimes even more than the actual workout. On the other hand if you happen to watch a race with elite athletes they break out a stretch or two, but not much more. As it often happens, somewhere between the middle of the two extremes is probably what you should aim at. Here’s some suggestions to help you with your stretching practice.
- Yes to stretching because contracted muscles can shorten your stride, change your posture and, therefore, increase the risk of injury. Develop a routine to include a range of movements for various parts of the body. In addition to the legs and arms also remember your back, your shoulders, neck and feet.
- To stretch it’s not necessary to be super flexible or become a yogi. Start from where you are right now (from zero or expert status) e just make sure to be consistent with your stretching.
- Remember that stretching should be done when you’re already warmed up. I find the best time to do it is after my workout, at home.
- Once you get into a stretching position remember to breathe. Two deep breaths while you stretch will help relax the muscles.
- There are thousands of books on stretching , if you need help on what you should be doing or new exercises there are endless choices out there!