The Importance of Stretching

 Stretching is so often something people neglect to do at the end of a training session because they are too tired to do anything else. Or when they do, they just rush through each stretch and so don't get the full benefit of each one.  

We stretch to improve our flexibility. Flexibility is the range of motion that is available to a joint or joints. Flexibility is important because:  

  It improves muscle balance around a joint, thus improving posture
    It reduces the chance of injury when playing a sport or in every day activities
   It increases the blood and nutrient supply to muscles and cartilage, thereby also reducing muscle soreness after training. 

Stretching Correctly

Stretching should not be done as a warm-up to an activity as you could injure your muscles if stretching them when they are cold. At least 3 to 5 minutes of cardiovascular training is recommended to warm up the muscles sufficiently. Each major muscle group should be stretched slowly and with control, holding each stretch for 1 to 3 sets of 10 to 60 seconds. Hold each stretch at the point of mild tension or tightness, not to the point of pain.  
It is important to stretch after doing any physical activity. When muscles perform any exercise, they tighten and shorten as a result. Stretching them out helps to restore and improve their length. When doing strength training, you could stretch each muscle group directly after performing each set.

When not to Stretch:
         Following muscle strains or ligament sprains
When joints or muscles are infected, inflamed or hurt
After a recent fracture
When sharp pains are felt in the joints or muscles. 


References: Your Personal Trainer by Douglas Brooks  

By Bronwen de Klerk