I remember my first season of football as a 9 year old. As a team we scored 1 goal all season (from a penalty) and if we only conceded single figures we would be treated to McDonald’s! That season however set the foundations for what I am going to talk about now. From that young age the coaches never overlooked the importance of stretching even if we thought the 5 minute at the end of training might have been better spent training in front of goal.
Right through my junior sporting life stretching was a constant, but when left to my own devices stretching was put to the side. This seems to be a common trend with the majority of athletes and fitness enthusiasts. “I don’t stretch as often as I should do” is the most common phrase I hear in clinic and although I’ve now started stretching on a more regular basis I still say the same thing.
When we think of improving fitness we focus on muscular strength, endurance and our cardiovascular system. Yes, these are essential components of our fitness but we often overlook flexibility. Flexibility carries immense benefits.
Why Should We Stretch?
Without adequate flexibility, daily activities become increasingly difficult and overtime we create poor postural habits and body movements. On top of these problems, poor flexibility increases the chance of activity based injuries (Why do you think it’s the people I see in clinic that say “I don’t stretch as often as I should do”).
Improving flexibility has the potential to enhance performance and advance muscular conditioning. Increasing blood flow to the muscle expands the potential benefits of stretching, allowing more nourishment and the removal of waste products from working muscles.
Dynamic stretching involves dynamic movements, hence the name, and is used before activity. Dynamic stretching goes perfectly with a warm up as it increases heart rate, muscle temperature and range of motion. We all know a warm up gets the body ready for exercise and reduces the risk of injury.
Static Stretching is best carried out once a workout is complete as the muscles at this time are still warm and pliable. It’s time to relax, rejuvenate and promote recovery. Static stretches are what’s going to increase flexibility and gain its associated benefits.
It doesn’t have to take forever, in fact less than 5 minutes is sufficient if performed on a regular basis. The benefits are clear. Why not make stretching your New Years Resolution?
Thanks for reading. If you would like a Personalised Static Stretching Program tailored for your sport, send me a message and I’ll be more than happy to put one together for you.