Lately I've been observing a neglectful trend among the plethora of fitness pages on Facebook - - total absence of information on the benefits and need for stretching - - pre and post workout.
So it's SMO to the rescue; assessing the gap in your fitness regimen, empowering your success with education on the magical healing powers frequent stretching affords. Because that's what I do.
First, stretching matters. It's an integral part of a well-rounded, well-intentioned workout schedule that will:
- Improve flexibility, circulation and overall health
- Reduce muscle tension / prevention of cramps and strains
- Increase range of motion
- Minimize risk of activity-based injury
- Gain more power / Better workout performance
- Facilitate muscle recovery, repair, elasticity and elongation post workout
- Active Isolated (AI) - Stretches are aided with a belt or rope (or a second person assist) as leverage support to increase a range of motion in the stretch 5-10% deeper than normal. Stretches are held for a short period of time 2 - 5 seconds with several repetitions to improve flexibility. This technique allows your brain and your body to remember the new range of motion you're creating. It's also ideal for seniors who may need extra support.
- Ballistic - A rapid pulsating or bouncing up and down motion stretch that applies more than twice the tension to the muscle region. One of the riskiest stretching techniques, as it may cause tearing to muscle fibers if improperly done. The stretch technique is best suited for highly conditioned athletes and is not recommended for beginners.
- Dynamic - Optimal, and best known, as part of a workout warm up; dynamic stretches center on full motion range of major muscles and joints.
- Passive - One of the more common stretch techniques, best suited post-workout when muscles are warm and ready for recovery with assistance by a 2nd person (ie, your trainer or physical therapist) providing the force of the stretch. Each stretch is gently held 20-60 seconds, always allowing the muscles to remain relaxed. There is no
- Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) - Sounds fancy or intimidating, right? Nah. It's actually quite delicious and highly effective in producing results. Originally designed for use in occupational and physical therapy, it is trending into mainstream fitness more and more. Simply it's a combo-platter of contract-relax-stretch movement of a muscle or group of muscles. An isometric contraction is held at minimum 3 seconds, followed by a subtle release into deeper passive stretch and repeated several times.
- Static - The standard, most commonly used style by people who stretch. It is nearly identical to the passive stretch technique.
- During active, intense exercise, muscle fibers expand and contract, delivering that pumped-up look.
- When a post-workout stretch is bypassed, the muscles remain in this state for a longer period of time and in some instances may stay that way.
- Stretching allows the release of those fibers, allowing them to breathe, recover, and return to their intended long, lean position.
- It is the absence of either regular or effective stretching practices where many women believe they bulk up. This is because the muscles are stuck in their contracted position. Unfortunately, this limited mindset that prevents women engaging in weight and strength training essential to their physical health and longevity.
- Frequent cardio conditioning can also have the same effect. Runners, for example, too often suffer insanely tight hips and hamstrings because they either don't stretch effectively or at all