Stretching has many benefits if done correctly. Performing stretches can also result in discomfort, especially if you have an underlying condition like spinal stenosis. Experienced stretchologists and stretch studio specialists recommend following the basic safety rules to avoid injury. Here are eight rules to follow when stretching:
1. Warm Up Before Stretching
Most athletes and fitness enthusiasts consider stretching a warm-up and also perform stretches post-workout. Warming up before stretching increases your core temperature and improves muscle flexibility, allowing you to achieve a better range of motion during the main workout. There are various ways you can warm up before performing static stretches:
• jumping jacks or burpees
• Perform dynamic stretches
• Engage in a light activity like walking
2. Form matters when stretching
Every stretch has the right way to perform, and it's essential to achieve perfect form at all times. Without proper form, you may harm or injure the muscles and ligaments. You can also look up guides online, but working with an experienced stretchologist is the best option if you aren't sure how to target and stretch the right muscles.
3. Stop When It Gets Painful
It's normal to encounter resistance and discomfort when stretching, but you should always pay heed to the pain. Stretching should feel relieving, so any sharp, sudden, or intense pain is enough reason to stop. You should stretch only to the point of mild tension. If it hurts, stop and reset to perfect form. You can also warm up a little longer before stretching.
4. Start Slowly and Gently
Stretches should be slow and gentle to relax the muscles and increase blood circulation. Avoid sharp movements, bouncing, and rocking back and forth as such motions cause the muscles to tense up. Rapid, jerky movements can result in strain and muscle tear, so you should start with slow, gradual movements and ease into the motion, focusing on the targeted muscles.
5. Don't Stretch Serious Injuries
Stretches can improve a condition, but some movements can cause more damage if you have a severe injury like slipped disk or spinal stenosis. A torn muscle or injured joint needs enough rest, and stretching will only slow down recovery or exacerbate the damage. It's advisable to avoid stretching with an existing injury unless your therapist recommends it.
6. Breathe Slowly While Stretching
When stretching or exercising, people tend to hold their breath, but stretchologists and fitness therapists warn against it. You should breathe slowly and comfortably when performing any exercise. Holding your breath can tense the muscles, making it difficult to stretch and hold the position. You can imitate yoga breathing or any other comfortable technique.
7. Stretch All Major Muscle Groups
Some sports and activities put more strain on specific muscles, so you may end up working out specific muscle groups longer and harder. You should stretch all major muscle groups regularly for a more balanced effect. Stretchologists recommend targeting major muscle groups and opposing muscle groups at least two to three times per week, but you can practice every day.
8. Choose a Reputable Stretch Studio
Stretching doesn't require any equipment, so you can perform the motions anywhere, anytime. If you are stretching to resolve a specific health condition or as part of a fitness or athletic routine, it's beneficial to involve an experienced stretchologists to do the work for you and stretch you!
Stretch 22 offers the perfect stretch lounge with qualified specialists ready to help you achieve maximum performance in life.