Why is stretching so important?
Stretching is one of the most important daily activities that we can do, yet most people forget or don’t do it. Stretching allows more range of motion in the muscles which will increase the flexibility, strength and overall health of the muscle. Without stretching the muscle becomes tight and short and without being able to extend, it’s at risk of strain, tears, or further damage.
Most of the working world requires a sit-down job, which leads to tight lower back and leg muscles. This is one of the number one reasons for back injuries. With the soleus (calf muscle) tight, it will pull on the gastrocnemius (back of knee), which pulls on the hamstrings, which then pulls on the glutes, and finally pulls on the lower back muscles. Tightness anywhere in this chain can result in back stress.
Daily stretching will keep the muscles long and flexible, allowing you to exert more onto the muscle groups themselves. It will also allow better circulation throughout the body, which will help with mobility and even energy levels.
When is the best time to stretch?
The common mistake that people make Is fully stretching before a activity or workout. Stretching a muscle when it’s cold or has yet to be warmed up, can result in strain or tearing of the muscle. It can also over stretch the muscle, leading to weaker performance, such as bursts or sprints. You can warm up with dynamic based stretches which will incorporate the same movements of the workout or activity that you are about to take on.
The best time to stretch is going to be after a activity or workout. Your muscles will be warm and you’ll be overall more flexible due to more circulation. It’s also beneficial to stretch post workout because the muscles that were used in the activity may be tight or full of lactic acid, which you’ll want to smooth out and disperse throughout the rest of the muscle or body. Finally, stretching post workout will help with your recovery time and reduce the duration of your soreness.
Again, stretching should be done daily, whether you work out or not, it’s important for flexibility and mobility. If you sit throughout the day, you should allow yourself 2 minutes every couple of hours to stretch and allow blood to freely flow through your lower body to prevent injury.
What muscles should be stretched daily?
If you needed to stretch every muscle in the body, we would understand why it would be skipped or avoided. The truth is, that you only need to stretch a few muscles daily. These would be the ones that allow functionality and mobility through daily tasks. This includes lower extremities (soleus, hamstrings, and glutes) and upper extremities (traps, shoulders, forearms). These are the basics that we use on a regular basis. The important thing about stretching those areas, is that it will reduce pull and strain on the other muscles throughout your body, reducing your risk of injury. Here are a couple of the daily stretches that can be done at home, work, or at the gym.
- Hamstring stretch
- Calf stretch
- Butterfly groin stretch
- Lying hip stretch
- Lying Quad stretch
- Foream/bicep stretch
- Tricep stretch
- shoulder stretch
- Neck rotation stretch
We understand that it’s easier said than done when it comes to stretching. We all have used the excuse “I don’t have time” to get away from doing our daily stretching. Truth is, that if you don’t take the couple minutes throughout the day to stretch, you WILL cost yourself days to even years’ pain due to damaged muscles, ligaments, and tendons. do yourself a favor and prolong your health and functionality. Whether it’s first thing in the morning, just before bed, or at best, every two hours. You need to make it a priority to stretch.