What are the benefits of stretching?
Many people are not aware of the effects of stretching and are not aware how to stretch exactly. Most stretching exercises focus on a flexible body and some exercises can help to develop more muscle strength. If you stretch right way, stretching exercises can improve your performance and health.
Naturally, many people and animals also apply stretching exercises. For example, the cat stretch when it just wakes up. For relaxation, stretching exercises can also be used, such as in yoga, for example, or some people do it between works if they feel tense.
Increases the circulation of waste materials and supply of nutrients from the muscles
Increases the power
Increases the Range of Motion (for example a deeper squat)
Reduces the chance of injuries
Stretching stabilizes the body and causes the body to return to a natural position. After a heavy workout there is usually a lot of lactic acid in the muscles. Stretching exercises can cause the lactic acid to be drained faster, reducing the risk of cramp or muscle pain.
What exactly happens when stretching?
The stretching of the muscle tissue starts in the sarcomere. As the sarcomere contracts, the distance between the thick and the thin myofilaments becomes smaller. When you stretch the muscle, the distance between the myofilaments increases, so that the muscle tissue is stretched. When the sarcomere is maximally stretched, there is tension around the tissues that hold the muscles. By stretching, the myofilaments return to the right place. This rearrangement of these poorly placed myofilaments can ensure that muscle damage recovers faster.
The two most famous stretching methods are active and passive stretching. Below is an explanation of both forms.
Static (passive) stretching
When people think of stretching, they usually associate this with static stretching. For example, static stretching is used in yoga to improve overall flexibility and the range of motion. A static stretching exercise is usually held for 30 or more seconds.
For hamstrings, for example, you can hold a pose for two minutes. This also applies to the hip flexors and the lower back muscles. If you have not stretched much during your life, you may notice that your body is struggling. I usually advise my clients that they should hold an exercise for at least 30 seconds.
For the elderly it is important to keep the hip muscles flexible. This is possible through stretching exercises on a daily basis. This makes it possible to prevent hip injuries.
Active stretching is a bit like military gymnastics from the past where you constantly keep moving and the stretch does not last long. For example, when you swing gently your leg in front of you (front leg raises).
You can hold an active stretching exercise for about 1-3 seconds. Personally, I vary the speed of the stretch period per exercise. Research shows that moderately intensive stretching exercises can improve the explosive power. Moreover, research shows that stretching exercises can provide more flexible hamstrings, so you are less likely to have injuries. Active stretching is an excellent way to prepare for cardio training or strength training. I always advise my clients to do some stretching exercises after a short warm-up to prepare the body for the strength exercises.
With safe stretching, the pain threshold is not or hardly exceeded, except for experienced athletes who stretch the last few seconds of a stretching exercise even further. Some top athletes look for the pain threshold to stretch the muscles even further.
First do a general warm-up so that the muscles are at temperature.
Stretch the muscle (group) slowly and quietly.
Stretch each muscle (group) three times in a row; perform the exercise left and right.
Keep breathing slowly while stretching
Shake the muscle after stretching a muscle (group).
Do stretching exercises as much as possible after your workout.