Stretching wide-stretched

Stretching is done at the end of the workout. That’s how I know it. And that’s how I love it. My body is already conditioned to that. Because then he knows that the hard work has an end and it’s knocking-off time. Meanwhile I stretch myself also without hard work before. With it I lie – once again – completely besides the trends…

Why I am an avowed stretch fan

Advantages of stretching include stress reduction and relaxation. I think that especially after a sporting effort – if classic workout or the big jogging session through the forest – the body needs to be told that he can now switch to recovery mode. And stretching is a great way to do that. The slowness of stretching, preferably with suitable music (I can highly recommend Katatonia for stretching), lets us calm down again. 

In addition to that, even though many studies argue against it, I believe that stretching very well prevents muscle soreness. Firstly, the justification, the stimulation of the blood circulation and the associated supply of nutritive substances and the reduction of waste products in muscle tissue sounds plausible. Secondly, I can tell from my very own experience. If I stretch after the sport in detail, I do not have sore muscles. After jogging, for example, I really enjoy doing Yoga. There are a few Asanas (Yoga exercises) that appeal to the leg muscles and by holding them a little longer, they produce optimal stretching. After workout or Aerobics I also attach great importance to stretching as part of the cool down procedure.

Admittedly, if I do unaccustomed movement patterns, I also have a slight pull every now and then. Even with stretching. What you can do with and against sore muscles, I have already described to you in detail.

Stretching wide-stretched explained

First, some facts:

Stretching means, of course: The muscle gets stretched.

You should not do this with injured muscles or if there are other restrictions.

Besides that, stretching must not hurt. It should only pull so intensely that you are out of the comfort zone, but you can still hold it relaxed. If the stretching is painful, the body responds with a protective reaction so that no damage occurs – the stretch reflex (myotatic reflex). If the stretch reflex takes effect, stretching unfortunately has no more positive effects at all.

Basically, all large muscle groups should be stretched. In particular, the muscles strained during exercise. However, all muscles used also have an antagonist which brings us back to our starting position. The antagonist should also be stretched. In this way muscular imbalances can be prevented. Various muscles in the body also belong to the group of tonic muscles. Tonic muscles are prone to shortening and thus to tension. The neck musculature (as well as parts of the erector spinae muscle or parts of the trapezius muscle located in the neck) is mentioned quite typically. Therefore it is no harm to always stretch the neck muscles. In addition, I am a stretching junkie anyway and stretching cannot last long enough for me. Check out my blog post from last time. There you will find wonderful neck stretch exercises.

My stretching procedure is mainly part of the cool down after the training. For that reason the stretching exercises in the last post were static. Also, you don’t want to (and can) move much after a night of headbanging (and possibly drinking). And static stretching is effective without producing a great risk of injury.

Depending on your personal goal of stretching you should choose the method that suits you best. Even I still learn about stretching (although one says: practice makes perfect…) and therefore, if you want to get deeper into the topic, I recommend you to get some specialist literature. Nevertheless I want to give you a rough overview of the methods of stretching.

Methods of stretching

First of all, let’s mention that there is a difference between static and dynamic stretching. Static stretching is stretching without movement and dynamic stretching involves movement.

In the field of static stretching there are purely static stretching (like my exercises described in the last post) and passive static stretching. Passive static stretching differs from purely static stretching in that you work either with a partner or with utilities. This is good for extending the range of motion, but also has a slightly increased risk of injury. In addition to that, there is active stretching (here we work with a stretching stimulus of the antagonist) and PNF stretching (“Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation” – the target muscle is stretched and contracted).

In dynamic stretching, the bouncing and the purely dynamic method are known. Because the bouncing method, in which the muscle is stretched with swing over the normal range of motion, involves a high risk of injury, the purely dynamic method is mainly used. Here, the muscles are stretched by gentle turning and spring movements.

Stretching does not only deliver us relief after a night of headbanging. Beyond that there are many other advantages of stretching.

Advantages of stretching 

  • The range of motion is improved.
  • Muscle shortening is compensated,
  • and thus, reduced the risk of injury.
  • After sport, muscle tone is reduced and regeneration is promoted
  • and therefore, muscle soreness is prevented.
  • Correct execution improves posture
  • and coordination and body awareness are skilled.
  • Exhaustion is prevented
  • stress is relieved and 
  • the relaxation is promoted.

With so many positive effects and the comparatively little effort that stretching entails, it is no longer really a question of whether you stretch or not.

By the way: The somewhat sensational article in the German magazine Trainer 2/2019 “Stop Stretching” is not completely against stretching. An important point mentions that stretching alone does not help to improve mobility. I can fully agree with that.

As with everything in life, it is also important in sport to find a balance between all the components that define physical fitness.

And that’s it for now – the quote for this Sunday. I´m looking forward to tell you something about Yin Yoga next time. It’s like “stretching without warming up”. Actually forbidden in Fitness. If you want to know why it is still good for you and which Insomnium songs fit best to the Asanas …

… stay tuned!

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