Anyone that has suffered a fitness-related injury will tell you it’s no walk in the park. But we’re human. Cutting corners is in our nature, even at the expense of our own health. Here at Halo, we care greatly about the wellbeing of our members. If you feel pain through fitness, we want make sure it’s the right pain. So here’s the low-down on stretching.
Why should we stretch?
Stretching is an important cog in your fitness routine, necessary for loosening your muscles up before a workout. Picture your muscles like a cold elastic band. Given enough tension, you can expect it to snap. The more you warm it up, the more durability you will have.
Stretching improves the blood flow to your muscles, increases flexibility, enhances endurance and prepares your body for the next stage of your workout.
Types of stretches
There are many recognised forms of stretching (seven to be exact). For now, we’ll simply focus on the two most well-known of these.
Dynamic stretching: this involves adding movement to your stretches and can be incorporated into your warm-up. In fact, you’ll usually see people performing dynamic stretches before a workout, helping to increase your heartrate before you begin. Examples include walking lunges, high kicks and jump squats.
Static stretching: contrastingly, static stretching involves holding a position throughout your stretch and usually takes place post workout. This tends to be gentler. It allows your body to let go of any tension you’ve built up throughout your session and slowly reduce your heartrate. Examples include hamstring stretch, head bend and quadriceps stretch.
How long do stretches need to be held?
There is no right or wrong answer to holding a stretch. It’s advisable to incorporate dynamic stretching into your primary warm-up routine, which should last around 5 – 10 minutes overall. On cool down, the general rule of thumb is to hold a static stretch for roughly 30 seconds per position.
Just a small amount of stretching every day (whether you’re working out or not) will make you more alert, greatly enhance flexibility and coordination, ease aches and pains and reduce stress.
Dos and don’ts
- Hold your stretches for between 20-30 seconds
- Breathe deeply throughout your stretching
- Listen to your body. It will tell you its limits
- Stretch injured muscles unless instructed otherwise
- Bounce your stretches. Bouncing back quickly from a stretch can be harmful
- Stretch cold muscles. Ensure your muscles are warmed up enough before you begin
Great! Now you’re ready to enjoy an injury-free workout in your nearest Halo centre. Get started with a FREE 7 day pass!