Stretching to relieve pain and stress
If you have found yourself wondering how to stretch your tense, aching body, you are not alone.
Alpha Mark, a fitness trainer in Nairobi with professional experience of over 10 years talks of the importance of stretching daily.
“When people think about fitness it’s always about doing different exercises and strength workouts. In rare occasions stretching is considered yet it’s as important to wellness,” he says.
Stretching is the elongation of muscles to their full length. It offers numerous health and fitness benefits. It maintains and increases flexibility to which an individual’s muscle will elongate.
“Naturally, as we age our muscles become shorter and tight and bound to injuries easily,” he says.
The main types of stretches include static and dynamic stretches.
“Static involves moving the muscle to its full range and this should be done after a workout. When performed before an exercise it can limit the muscles’ ability to react quickly. On the other hand, dynamic stretches are best before a workout. They prepare the muscles for activity by decreasing stiffness and increasing muscle temperature,” he says.
Examples of dynamic stretches are walking lunges, jumping jacks, and steam engine mountain climbing.
Examples of static stretches: are the hamstring, quadriceps, and posterior stretches.
A regular stretching routine can help reduce pain and fatigue due to impaired movement.
“There is a certain satisfaction of a good feeling when stretching. You instantly feel a release of burden and the body becomes new and relaxed after a stretch. It also increases blood flow in the body,” he adds.
Stretching can either be done before an exercise because when the muscles are dormant they shorten and are tight so when an activity is attempted it is unable to extend and can result in injury.
“Do a light warm-up exercise to relax the muscle before stretching, make sure stretching is done on daily basis. Do one stretch for about 30 to 60 seconds gently repeating the stretch three times for efficiency in loosening the intended muscle.”
During a stretch be gentle and let your body determine how far you can go.
During lower body workouts dynamic stretch is preferred to warm up the muscle because of the heavy indulgence in weights. Static is preferred during chest, back and shoulder. Generally, a light warm-up session is needed before any routine.
“I rarely have injuries even after heavy lifting because stretching is a remedy,” he says.