The Importance of Stretching

Stretching –  is a form of physical exercise in which a specific skeletal muscle (or muscle group) is deliberately stretched, often by abduction from the torso, in order to improve the muscle’s felt elasticity and reaffirm comfortable muscle tone. [source]

For us active people, stretching is very important part of our routine. We don’t engage in any sort of activity without doing it before and after. Whether in training mode or in the actual race we have to stretch. This is to reduce of getting injury, avoid sore muscles and improve our performance. Of course we are all familiar with the sensation of tightness and stiffness in the legs and lower back muscles after we run and to avoid this we stretch.

The benefits of doing stretching before running is that it helps to warm the muscles and helps improve our blood flow and lubricate joints and muscles and get them ready for work. Stretching before we run can increase flexibility, and that can improve performance by helping our joints move through an increased range of motion.

Btw, how do we do the proper way of stretching? It is recommended to gently and carefully pull, lengthen and stretch out the muscles in our legs and arms. This can be done by several moves for the upper and the lower body where the runner “tugs” on the muscle group, feeling a slight pull but not discomfort or pain. Pacing our breathing during stretching is important too. This is to allow our body to relax. Inhale deeply through the nose and exhale (either through the nose or through the mouth) as we are going into the stretch. Continue this kind of diaphragmatic breathing through the exercise. Remember to hold the stretch and not to bounce!

Here are stretching exercises that I’ve googled that might be helpful for us.

Stretch before & after any activity to avoid injury

What are the major muscles that should be targeted when we stretch?

  1. The thigh muscles: The brunt of the running work will come from these muscles, so it’s important to stretch them out for a good running workout. This will include the front thigh, inner thigh and the back of the legs.
  2. The calf muscles: Very often, runners get cramps in their calf muscles if they don’t stretch properly or often enough.
  3. The lower back: Often an overlooked area, the lower back absorbs a lot of the impact from running and should be stretched out to avoid any injuries.
  4. The neck and arms: The neck and arm muscles can become very stiff from long running. Attention to these muscle areas can ensure comfort and avoid injuries if addressed.

more illustration of stretching

Running is a lot of fun, highly beneficial and usually becomes a lifestyle change for many people who want to promote better health and well-being. With a safe and productive approach to the running lifestyle, all runners should be sure to include proper stretching as a part of their regimen, to continue to enjoy it for a long time.

This information is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. Before starting any activity or  exercise program, consult a physician.

You’ve been informed.

This is a friendly reminder from yours truly, Printipe. 🙂

For more stretching blogs visit: http://www.teamcontinuum.net/s_importance.asp | http://www.seaparkac.com/?page_id=64 | http://www.livestrong.com/article/488230-the-importance-of-stretching-before-running/ | http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/fitness/cardio/the-importance-of-stretching-for-runners.html

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5 thoughts on “The Importance of Stretching

  1. Pingback: The Secrets of Stretching: Stretching Exercises and Warmups « BebeFitness

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  4. Stretching has always been an interesting subject to me. When I was much younger I stretched all the time; I was involved in The Cross Country Team of my High School and did Martial arts since I was in the 5th Grade. Now that I’ve older I find I stretch less or not at all and I notice in degradation in performance and no injury’s (so far) from not stretching. There has been allot of research on the issue so I’m never able to get a definitive answer on if you should or should not stretch before running. What seems to be the consensus though is that too much stretching can be bad. Hmmmmm….. the controversy over it reminds me of the “Chicken or the Egg”
    you should check out this –> http://www.runnersworld.com/stretching/should-i-stretch-my-runs

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