Is it Important to Stretch?

YES!

Confession: I didn’t really think too much about stretching before or after exercising when I started my fitness and health journey three years ago. I’d do a little ‘stretch’ before exercising but it was a very poor attempt {hence why I don’t really consider it to be stretching}.

If you are eating healthy and exercising but you are not stretching…. you’re missing a big piece of the puzzle. Stretching will reduce muscle imbalances, reduce risk of injury, will enhance muscle growth and help with mobility {and a ton more stuff}. Remember, without stretching you won’t hit your optimal performance level. You’re like… {pardon my french} half-assing your routine.

There are a handful of different types of stretches and I am going to go over all of them below to help you choose the right type of stretch.

  • Foam rolling {self-myfasical reslease} uses the principle of autogenic inhibition to cause muscle relaxation. I recommend starting out with a smooth foam roller {like this one} before moving to a ridged foam roller {like this one}. You’ll want to move down the foam roller with your body at 1 second per an inch. If you hit a point of tension then pause on that point for no more than 30 seconds. The build up you feel are muscle fibers that in a bundled posting {aka: a knot} and need to be straightened out.
    • Foam roll before exercising and after exercising.
    • Foam roll before static stretching.
    • YouTube has a ton of videos on foam rolling and how to do it {I’ll be making a video on it soon!}
  • Static stretching is the type of stretching that requires you to hold the stretch for 30 seconds. There is a good chance you’ve done this type of stretch a time or two. By holding your muscle in the stretched position, the Golgi tendon organ is stimulated and produces an inhibitory effect on the muscle. In other words, the stretch allows the muscle to relax. Static stretching is used to correct muscle imbalances and increases joint range of motion.
    • Static stretch after foam rolling.
    • Static stretching before and after exercise.
    • Studies show that acute static stretching {holding the stretch for more than 30 seconds} can decrease muscle performance.
  • Active-isolated stretching is commonly known as a ‘warm up’ type of stretching {such as a standing adductor stretch}. Active-isolated stretching creates motoneuron excitability which creates reciprocal inhibition of the muscle being stretched. In other words, it helps active the muscle you are stretching.
    • Active-isolated stretch after foam rolling and static stretching
    • Use this method os stretching as a warm up for your exercise routine
    • 5-10 reps of each stretch and hold each stretch for 1-2 seconds
  • Dynamic stretching uses the body’s momentum to take the joint through the full range of motion {such as a prisoner squat}. Similar to active-isolated stretching in that there is movement involved versus holding a stretch for 30 seconds {like foam rolling and static stretching}. Dynamic stretching improves soft tissues extensibility and range of motion. Like active-isolated stretching, it is common to use dynamic stretching as a warm up before exercise.
    • Dynamic stretch after foam rolling and static stretching.
    • Perform one set of 10 reps using 3-10 dynamic stretches.

Comment below if you have any thoughts or questions about stretching!

Keep movin’
Jenn 

PS: Check out my home  gym here 🙂

About trimwithjenn

My blogging goal is to give you at least one health, fitness and / or wellness tip!

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