The Truth About Stretching

Stretching is a part of exercising that most of us tend to neglect and/or often misconstrued by the majority as “warm up.” Little do we know that stretching can improve certain aspects of our routine exercise and help muscle flexibility that can pay off along the way.

So lets get some facts straight: Stretching is NOT warming up

Warming up is defined as: to engage in exercise or practice especially before entering a game or contest; broadly: to get ready. A warm up routine can range from running or jogging lightly on the same spot to skipping or jumping rope. Although both stretching and warming up are done before every routine exercise but if you ask every expert out there they would not recommend stretching unless you have not done a warm up routine. It is actually detrimental for your muscle tissues to be stretched when it is still cold.

It is important to remember that doing warm up exercises before the actual work out gradually increase circulation to your muscles, tendons and ligaments, increase your heart rate and prepares you mentally for the work out.

Stretching on the other hand focuses specifically on stretching your muscles and needs the body to have an increase on temperature which warming up actually provides. A good workout consists of a solid warm up, a period of stretching, a more strenuous portion increasing the heart rate and a cool down period, which often includes stretching. When you take the time to experience each of these workout segments, you will experience fewer occurrences of injuries and increase your workout enjoyment.

How To Properly Stretch Your Muscles

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Stretching can be done everyday

Sure we may not want to go the gym every single day of the week but stretching everyday for at least 10-15 minutes (that doesn’t include at least 10 minutes of warm up)can go a long way for us. Andrew Kalley, a triathlon coach, says that consistent stretching is key to increasing flexibility, range of motion, and potentially reducing the risk of muscle strain.

Even if you are already flexible you still need to stretching

Most exercise enthusiasts and/or expert still do their stretching routine even if they have had an established exercise regime for years. Stretching and warming up are still important for everyone in order to increase blood flow to muscles. And remember, skimping out on stretching might also decrease flexibility over time.

Participating on a race day… I might want to stretch extra long

The key point to remember hear is never stretch your cold muscles and just because your participating in a race doesn’t mean you have to spend a longer time on stretching. Researchers have found that static stretching before racing could both harm muscles and prevent athletes from reaching their best game potential. Treat your race days like any other exercise day.

The main goal of stretching is to prepare your body for extraneous activity with minimal impact to muscles and mobility. You have to take the time to fully understand your goal and/or sport. The best way to avoid unnecessary injury and increase your A-game is to be mindful of your athletic preparations. And always remember that should you perform stretches you should do them with complete care, purpose, in accordance with different flexibility routine and it should be goal oriented.


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author_pic Dr. Aaron Richardet

Dr. Aaron Richardet has been freeing people from pain since 2000 in his clinic in Wilmington, North Carolina. As a Chiropractor with experience, he is committed to promoting the health and well being of his patients. Dr. Richardet uses a "whole person approach" when taking care of his patients.