Why stretching should be part of fitness routine

By Kayla Hartson
Student Fitness Program Coordinator

Everyone knows the important role exercise has on human health, but how many people know the importance of stretching?

Research shows that stretching plays an important role in athletic performance as well as many common daily activities. Stretching exercises improve mobility and keep muscles and joints functioning as they should.

Benefits of stretching include improvements in flexibility, range of motion, muscular function, enhancement of performance, increased blood flow and injury prevention. This article discusses the different ways to stretch and how to incorporate flexibility into a fitness routine.

How to stretch

Stretching is meant to increase flexibility among the major muscles and tendons in the body. Flexibility is defined as the ability to move a joint through its complete range of motion. Therefore, stretching does not mean you reach down to touch your toes for 30 seconds and can call it good. Listed below are the different types of stretching and how they are performed:

  • Static stretching: Slowly extending the targeted muscle group and holding at the point of tension for 30 seconds or more. There are two types of static stretching – active and passive. Active is holding the stretched position without the use of an external force. In other words, you are performing the stretch on your own, using one muscle group to stretch another. In passive stretching, an external force is applied during the stretch to increase intensity, such as a partner stretch or resistance band.
  • Dynamic stretching: Stretching a muscle while moving through a range of motion and repeating the movement several times.
  • Ballistic stretching: Also known as “bouncing stretches” that use momentum to produce a stretch. This method often is used in athletic performance drills.
  • PNF stretching: “Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation” involves a contract-relax method of the muscle group in which a person contracts the targeted muscle group for a few seconds followed by a static stretch of the same group.

When to stretch

Flexibility exercises are most effective when muscles are warm, which is why is it great to include them in a workout routine. Here are guidelines on how to stretch before and after a workout:

  • Before a workout: The best stretches to do before a workout are dynamic and ballistic stretches. The dynamic stretches should resemble movements in the actual workout, but at a lower intensity. The purpose of a warmup is to prepare your body for movement by increasing body temperature and range of motion around various joints. Static stretching should NOT be performed before a workout because it has been shown to decrease muscle strength and power.
  • After a workout: Static stretching and PNF stretching are great for after a workout. Flexibility will be better during this time because the muscles and joints are warm.

Flexibility recommendations

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that a healthy individual engage in at least 2-3 days a week of flexibility exercises. Stretching daily would deliver the best results.

To get the most benefit from a stretching exercise, ACSM recommends stretching a muscle to the point of tightness and holding it for 10-30 seconds, repeating 2-4 times. A person will see significant flexibility improvements after 3-4 weeks of consistent stretching by following the recommended guidelines.

Follow the Student Fitness Centers on Instagram at @gcu.sfc for tips on how to stay active and healthy.

****

Reference:

C.E. Garber, B. Blissmer, M.R. Deschenes, et al. American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal, and neuromotor fitness in apparently healthy adults: guidance for prescribing exercise. Med Sci Sport Exer, 43 (7) (2011), pp. 1334-1359.

Calendar

Calendar of Events

M Mon

T Tue

W Wed

T Thu

F Fri

S Sat

S Sun

4 events,

3 events,

2 events,

3 events,

1 event,

3 events,

6 events,

Integrity Week

Integrity Week

4 events,

3 events,

7 events,

6 events,

5 events,

3 events,

5 events,

5 events,

4 events,

6 events,

5 events,

2 events,

4 events,

4 events,

6 events,

5 events,

5 events,

7 events,

3 events,

8 events,

5 events,

5 events,

3 events,

5 events,

9 events,

3 events,

Chapel

Chapel

GCU Magazine

Bible Verse

As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. (James 2:26)

To Read More: www.verseoftheday.com/