Before and after any fitness workout or sport it is important that you stretch your muscles to reduce the chance of injury. When you perform stretching manoeuvres your muscles will become relaxed providing you with increased flexibility and better coordination. You will also find that your performance will be much better. If you are not warming up and cooling down properly you could end up damaging your muscles.
I will outline a few tips on how you should complete your stretching:
-warming up. Before any stretching you should always warm up your muscles first by going for a light walk or jog for about 5 minutes. This will allow the blood to flow through your muscles so you don’t stretch them when they are cold.
-stop if it hurts. There are some people that think they will get a better stretch if they perform the movement until they reach the point of pain. You should only stretch to a position that you can comfortably hold for 25 seconds.
-stretch equally. Make sure you are stretching both sides of your body equally. Also it is good to stretch both upper and bottom parts of your body because you will use muscles from these regions even though you may not be aware of it.
-don’t bounce. It is important that you do not bounce on your stretch as this could result in tearing your muscle. Keep your movements slow and precise.
Stretching will also help in muscle growth. Every muscle in your body is enclosed in a bag of tough tissue known as fascia. Since the fascia is so tough, it doesn’t allow the muscle room to expand and therefore if you stretch you will give them more room to grow.
Remember to include a 5 minute cool down period at the end of your workout or sport. This will help slow your heart rate down to normal, relax your muscles and reduce the possibility of light-headedness. With a good before-and-after stretching routine your muscles will perform better and give you less problems in the future.