Many people neglect to stretch at the end of a workout. Maybe the reason for that is that they don’t have more time, or they think that stretching has no importance, or even some think that their genetics or stretching in the early days of their life determines to what extent they will be flexible. However, we at Real Fit personal trainers company think a little bit differently. You can do stretching exercises in the morning, during the day, or in the evening before you go to sleep. However, you have to be careful if you stretch and you haven’t done warm-up exercises before, so in that case, you have to go more carefully and with a smaller amplitude.
Let me give you some reasons why stretching is beneficial to anyone.
- Prevents muscle pain and cramps
- Reduces the possibility of muscle fatigue in the days after hard training
- Reduces the possibility of muscle injuries
- Increases the ability of muscles to contract
- Increases muscle movement
- It’s good for relaxation
- It’s a stress relief
- It will improve your sleep
- Improving your general flexibility and possibility to do more exercises
Types of stretching
There are several types of stretching, some of them are better to do before training while some are performed after training. In general, there are three basic types of stretching: Dynamic, Static, and Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) stretching. In a further division, dynamic stretching can be divided into active dynamic and ballistic stretching. When we talk about static stretching, it can be divided into active static and passive static stretching.
1. Dynamic stretching
This type of stretching is best done at the beginning of training. In this way, you activate the muscle groups that will be engaged during your training, and in some way, you warm up the muscles and joints that you feel are a little stiff. With dynamic stretching, we distinguish between active and ballistic stretching. Active dynamic stretching can be the circulation of the arms in the shoulder joint as a volleyball player prepares for training or a match. In addition, it can be stretching and warming up the knee joint and leg muscles as a preparation for the basketball player for the jumps in the game and the movements that follow. Ballistic stretching is known as bounce stretching. Due to the risk of straining or pulling muscles, this type of stretching is generally not recommended for everyday life and for people who just want to stay in shape or improve flexibility by doing exercises and practicing sports as amateurs. This kind of stretching means going beyond our limitations and can be dangerous.
2. Static stretching
Static stretching is performed at the end of training. It is the opposite of dynamic stretching, so while with dynamic stretching we try to warm up the muscles and prepare them for training and movements that challenge the engagement of those muscles, static stretching is performed at the end of training as a way to relax our muscles and of course gradually increase flexibility. This type of stretching involves stretching for a certain period and in a certain position, which causes the muscles to stretch. Static stretching can be divided into active static and passive static stretching. Active static stretching involves the use of your mass and force to stretch a specific muscle. This is done by taking a position for stretching a muscle and using your weight and strength to hold it for, say, 20 to 30 seconds. On the other hand, passive static stretching involves the help of a partner or personal trainer, where that person exerts pressure with their weight and strength to help you stretch and relax a certain muscle or group of muscles as much as possible.
3. Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) stretching
This type of stretching you usually do not do alone, but mostly with the help of a therapist. However, in certain cases, the athlete can also assist himself. PNF stretching usually involves passively stretching a muscle (or muscle group), then performing an isometric contraction of that muscle during the stretch, and passively stretching the same muscle group again in a deeper stretch with a greater range of motion. This type of stretching was first used in rehabilitation centers, but over the years athletes have discovered the benefits of PNF stretching. PNF stretching is based on the fact that a stretched muscle provides resistance and thus suppresses the stretch reflex and allows the muscle to stretch further than normal. This type of stretching may sound dangerous to someone, but when performed correctly, proprioceptive neuromuscular stimulation allows the athlete to increase the range of motion around the joint. It is useful during rehabilitation after injury, as well as during deep stretching after training.
Stretching before workout
Stretching at the beginning of the training is different from the one at the end of the training. First of all, at the beginning of the training, stretching is done as part of the warm-up, which is an indispensable part of the training. Namely, muscle groups and parts of the body that are planned to be activated during training must be properly stretched and warmed up. This is primarily done to reduce the chances of muscle strain or any other injury during training. Stretching is most often done in a specific order, which involves stretching muscle groups from the head to the feet, or in the reverse order, that is, from the feet to the head. This way of stretching makes it easier for us not to accidentally forget to stretch a part of the body or a muscle that can be important for that training. In addition, we activate our body and circulation for the loads that follow in the continuation of the training.
Stretching after workout
When you’re done with your workout, stretching shouldn’t be a question of whether you’re going to do it or not. In addition, stretching cannot be postponed, unless you have to. It would be best to do it immediately after the training, even if you don’t have time to do the whole training that you planned, finish the main part of the training and do the stretching. Of course, your stretching can last 2 minutes or 7-8 minutes. Our advice is that if you are not very flexible, in that case, your stretching should last about 7-8 minutes. At the end of the training, the static stretching that we explained earlier is carried out. In addition, if you have a personal trainer with you, in that case, the trainer can assist you and help you stretch more. If you don’t have a personal trainer with you, you can always contact our company and our trainers will help you. The most important thing is that you stretch a group of muscles that you activated during that training because there is a great chance that muscle soreness will appear in those muscle groups.
Every person should stretch either before or after the training or as a daily routine even on the days when they are not doing a workout. Our Real Fit personal trainers are always at your disposal for additional questions.