How flexible are you? – Don’t worry we’re not going to ask you to help me move to a new house or look after my dog while I go on holiday. I mean mobility and flexibility. Do you stretch? If not, why not? Stretching is very overlooked, often seen as a token gesture before and after a workout. We’ve written this as a short guide to stretching for beginners. But regardless of your experience, there may be some elements of stretching that you’re unaware of.
Dynamic and Static
Firstly, let’s explain the two main types of stretching and their purpose.
Dynamic Stretching generally consists of movements which progress in their range of motion with each repetition. These would normally mimic or consist of movements which are similar to the activity that you’re going to be taking part in. Think bodyweight squats prior to a leg session in the gym. As the movement progresses your muscles will lengthen, the blood starts flowing to the muscles you’ll be using, and the joints will start to loosen up with the increase in synovial fluid.
We would recommend the use of dynamic stretching at the beginning of your workout.
Static Stretching is what you would expect it to be from its name. Positioning and holding a muscle at the point of being tight for 20-30 seconds. During activity the muscle shortens, stretching this way afterwards allows the muscle to lengthen and for the blood to get into the muscle. With continued static stretching you’ll see an improvement in flexibility and range of motion the more you carry on with it.
We would recommend the use of static stretching at the end of your workout.
If you’re beginning with exercise, We would recommend getting into the habit of stretching before and after exercise as soon as possible. It’s something which your body will thank you for as you progress with exercise.
Physical and Mental Improvement
Aside from the increase of blood flow to the muscles stretching helps increase oxygen levels and helps deliver much-needed nutrients to your muscles. It also helps to flush out the waste that our body produces during exercise (lactic acid, uric acid and carbon dioxide). Stretching can also be treated as a meditative practice (Yoga anyone?) giving you the time to be present and mindful of the actions that you’re doing as well as focusing on your breathing can give your mental wellness the boost that it needs. It shouldn’t just be a case of “stretching for beginners” all athletes regardless of experience and activity will benefit from stretching.
There are plenty of videos available on youtube to watch and stretch along with, Kelly Starrett of Mobilitywod posts plenty of videos of stretches as well as other techniques to ease tight/injured muscles.
Stretching before and after exercise as well as the types of stretching and the suitability for training clients is covered in the level 2 gym instructor qualification and the Level 3 personal trainer certificate awarded by Active IQ find out more about the qualification and the topics covered by speaking to one of our advisers today on 0151 691 6680 or request a call back using one of our contact forms.
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