Stay flexible - stretching for everyone
by John Harris Fitness
A highly debated area in fitness theory is stretching. So is it better to stretch before or after a workout, better under muscle tension or completely relaxed, static or dynamic? Let us enlighten you!
A well-stretched muscle increases range of motion and helps us perform movements more freely and with greater radius. This helps not only with personal fitness, but also in everyday life. Little exercise, computer workstations or the wrong shoes can cause muscular imbalances that can be counteracted with targeted stretching.
In the past, stretching has been attributed to numerous additional functions that have never been scientifically proven. You have probably heard these myths about stretching before:
- Myth 1: Stretching before running prevents injury. - False: While some feel that gentle stretching before a cardio workout loosens them up nicely, stretching in no way replaces a warm-up and certainly does not protect against overuse.
- Myth 2: Stretching must always be static: False: Until the 1990s, it was thought that only static stretching was safe for the muscles. Today, we know that both static and dynamic stretching have their benefits.
For warming up, the dynamic form should be favored, but the final position of the muscle stretch should not be too intense.
- Myth 3: Stretching improves muscle recovery. Wrong: Muscle soreness is caused by the smallest injuries in the musculature, and stretching the muscle to a great extent is not beneficial.
The different types of stretching
In the classic stretching exercises, a stretching position is assumed and passively held for about 20-30 seconds. The muscles remain relaxed and are held in position by gravity, assistive devices or a second person.
Active static stretching
This method is currently considered to be particularly effective. The stretch is held by the muscular force of the antagonistic muscle. Thus, in addition to the stretching effect, the muscles are also strengthened, and the stretch is more in line with how the muscles are used in everyday life.
There are numerous approaches that combine active forms and passive forms. For example, the stretch is held briefly, then released and taken again.
Dynamic stretching is stretching in motion. In dynamic stretching, it is important that the exercises are always performed in a controlled and slow manner. Dynamic stretching can also be used to passively stretch the muscle. The difference, however, is that the stretching is done in a constant flow of movement and is never persevered in one position.
All methods have their benefits for different areas. However, it is important that you always warm up your muscles before you start stretching. While passive stretching allows you to get far into the position, the active form allows you to work the muscle directly into movement. You should not stretch heavily before exercising, as the speed of your muscles will suffer. Stretch more dynamically before exercise so that you can take full advantage of your range of motion afterwards. After the sport, your muscles are well warmed up and there is less risk of injury when stretching. Now static stretching can be relaxing and effective at the same time. Be sure to always stretch both sides equally and match your stretching goals to your sports. Not everyone needs to do a