Stretching your muscles regularly is your passport to better mobilitymore comfort in everyday life and a reduction of joint pain. Everyone can benefit from stretching: people who often repeat the same gesture, who work seated, who do a lot of sport, or who do not do enough.
We will see in this article the different advantages that you can draw from your stretching sessions and, above all, when and how to stretch.
- 1 Stretching: what is it for?
- 2 The benefits of stretching
- 3 How to stretch?
- 4 When to stretch?
- 5 To conclude
- 6 Also to read
Stretching: what is it for?
The benefits of stretching
In addition to increasing mobility, stretching can improve posture, reduce pain, and reduce stress.
Stretching increases flexibility
Range of motion and flexibility can be acquired and improved through stretching. Doing stretching regularly increases mobility and amplitude, qualities necessary to live better, but also to improve sports performance.
Stretching improves blood circulation
Regular stretching can improve circulation, including blood flow to muscle fibers. Recovery time is reduced, as well as aches.
Stretch after training and even between sets increases the muscle’s ability to hypertrophy : it is better oxygenated, better nourished, and flexible enough to take on more volume.
Stretching improves posture
Muscle imbalances can lead to poor posture, which exposes joints to premature wear, and increasingly marked imbalances. To curb this chain reaction, stretch regularly. You will notice that your posture will improve as you increase your flexibility.
Stretching for back pain
Back pain affects everyone. Inactive people, overactive people, and especially athletes. Did you know that most back pain can be corrected with simple stretching protocols ?
How to stretch?
Specialists believe that the ideal is two 60-minute stretching sessions per week divided into two main areas:
- Shoulders, neck and neck
- Pelvis, lower back and legs
Types of stretches
Depending on the desired effects, there are different types of stretching:
Dynamics: we do them mainly before, and especially during training.
Statics: they are carried out rather after an effort or at rest.
PNF: a technique that consists of contracting the muscle (agonist or antagonist) before or during stretching, in order to initiate a reflex that relaxes the muscle fibres. PNF is ideal for obtaining rapid results (essentially physiotherapy work).
Other protocols, which we will develop in a future article, should be considered under certain conditions.
When to stretch?
So that answers part of the question: you don’t stretch when you get out of bed or when you arrive at the gym. We start by warming up.
During a session
Once the warm-up phase has been completed, the session begins. It is from this moment that you can plan to do some dynamic stretching between your sets.
Do you do a leg workout? Between each series of squats, stretch your quadriceps in short bursts without going to the maximum stretch. This type of stretching activates blood circulation, increases the absorption of nutrients (your pre-workout ingredients for example!) and helps muscle fibers to expand.
The same if you do 400m sequences in running. Between each sequence, instead of just walking, stretch your quadriceps in short bursts for about 30 seconds (each). This will encourage faster recovery, a better stride in the next sequence and less risk of cramps, strains or tendonitis.
After a session
Taking 10 minutes after each training session to do some stretching is a reflex that can protect you against many joint pains. But, even more importantly, stretching can help you better benefit from the effects of your training, especially on the synthesis of the nutrients that you will absorb after the effort.
In addition, by softening the fascias (the membrane that surrounds your muscles), stretching allows a greater volume gain.
And, “last but not least”, stretching is your defense against most injuries : tendinitis, inflammations, tears, sprains, etc. Why ? Because greater amplitude and mobility allow an adequate reaction to all types of effort: sudden, intense, long, repeated or unexpected.
At the end of the day
If you prefer to do your stretching away from your sessions, prefer the evening just before bedtime. The hours of sleep that follow will take care of muscle adjustments, which will also happen more quickly.
Too, you will enjoy a more restful sleepas Yoga and Taï Chi adepts point out: stretching before sleeping promotes better relaxation, better breathing, faster falling asleep and better quality of sleep.
The perfect time to stretch, it’s the evening just before going to sleep.
If you manage to motivate yourself between two yawns, these stretching sessions will increase your flexibility, your amplitude, your mobility and even the quality of your sleep.
If you prefer to stretch around your session, prefer after training. These stretches will help you recover better, better assimilate nutrients, reduce aches and the risk of injury.
During training, dynamic stretching can help you recover better between sets, reduce the risk of cramps, and perform better. In this specific case, stretching must imperatively be dynamic (PNF, ballistic).
Reminder : static stretching is performed after exercise, dynamic stretching during exercise.
Also to read
All about stretching
Collagen for well-being and health
The benefits of glucosamine
The best sheathing program