Stretching is good in a lot of senses. It can act as a warm-up or cool-down routine, it can soothe the sore muscles and even ease up the pain, and it most importantly maintains and improves the flexibility. Further, it can help improve the whole exercising experience or the athletic performance by reducing the chances of soreness and injury and by helping the joint motion range. All in all, it can maximise the effectiveness of muscle work when done correctly.
Now, while stretching looks all easy to handle, doing it carelessly can easily turn into a painful, if not injuring, experience. So, what do you need to do in order to stretch safely? Let’s see.
Warm-up plays a vital role in preparing your body for physical activity- a sport, a serious workout, dance, running and whatnot. Same would be the case with stretching too. If you suddenly get up and bend 180 degrees, you can expect some serious troubles- pain and strains most possibly, if not some injury. Warm-up is more or less like warning the body that you are going to do something with it.
Now, this might not really be necessary if you are intending to do normal stretching just as a part of your workout warm-up or cool down. However, if you are considering or have been doing some serious stretching, it might not be the best idea to stretch the cold muscles. If you work out, then the best would be to include stretching in the cool-down process after the workout, when the muscles would still be warm.
Make stretching a comfortable process, not a painful one:
No matter what workout or physical activity you do, it is important to understand your body. Some people like to challenge themselves in different ways possible. Know that you can’t become a gymnast overnight. So, you cannot compare your flexibility level and attempt to gain great flexibility quickly. When you stretch, if you reach a point of pain, relax the stretch a bit and reach a point where you feel the tension and not the pain.
Be extra cautious in case you have had an injury in recent times. People recovering from injury sometimes try to push themselves a bit too much in hopes to recover faster. It could act in adverse- it can hurt the recovery process. This is especially frequent in case of the ones who’d been least mobile with rest or hospitalization.
Further, you might eventually want to hold the stretch for a while. The comfortable period would be 15 seconds to 60 seconds. Even with holding, try not to push too much. Remember, knowing your body and its limits is always the key.
Find a guide or an instructor if you should
While normal stretching exercises are easy to do yourself, it could be a good idea to have someone guide you and monitor you if you are into some serious stretching. Getting advice is an okay thing to do. If you don’t feel necessary later, you can terminate the with the guided sessions after you get a good grasp of it.
Have regular stretching sessions:
Take out time to stretch 10 minutes every day if you are serious about safely and painlessly improving your flexibility. The lowest bar you should aim for is 3 times a week. One of the best ways to safely stretch would be to have your body well-acquainted to stretching. So, making stretching a regular thing and getting it into your routine can go a long way in not only increasing your flexibility and limiting muscle soreness but also in preventing any injuries.
Take it slow if you are just starting with stretching:
Note that the point of introducing stretching to your daily routine is making it acceptable and easier for your body. While stretching can help ease up the sore muscles, too much strain can tear them and may even lead to some injuries. You, of course, don’t want that. So, make sure you take it slow when you start, at least in the first few days, particularly if you haven’t stretched in a while.
Hope that helped!