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Stretching for Beginners

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Stretching for beginners. How to start and safety tips.

In an ideal world, we have a regular stretching routine and our muscles couldn’t be happier. You might be making this a reality for yourself, which is great. But when you’re at the start of this journey. It’s hard to know when to stop.

60% of any execution is preparation. Stretching is no exception. Knowing what to and not to do can make all the difference. There are so many myths and half truths regarding stretching. We will try and debunk them all in this blog. Making it a safer and more fulfilling experience for you.

So, what should you take into consideration?

Concentrate on the major muscle groups.

Focus on the powerhouse. This will include muscles and joints that you use on a regular basis. This could differ depending on your occupation. However, universally, prioritizing your calves, hips, thighs, neck, lower back, and shoulders would be perfect.

Avoid Any Form of Pain.

While ‘feeling the burn’ is what is considered as effective. Let it be within reason. You should expect to feel some tension, but if it starts to hurt, you should probably pull back a little. When you’re in the state of just tension. Hold that position. Stretching is never supposed to hurt. This increases your risk of injury remarkably.  

Breathe and Hold your Stretch. 

Try not to hold your breath while stretching. Take deep breaths, these will help your muscles relax as you stretch. Leading to a deeper stretch. Holding your breath cuts the proper circulation of oxygen to your muscles. Breathe in as you begin the stretch, exhale while you go into the stretch. 

Then hold for about 30 seconds. But when you’re starting out, anything from 10-30 seconds will still work fine. The end goal is to build momentum over time and not stretch your body to the literal breaking point. 

Strive for Symmetry. 

It would be great if we all had the flexibility of an ice skater or a gymnast. Even though attainable, this should not be the end goal, not necessarily. Your number one priority should be in achieving equal flexibility side to side. When flexibility is not equal on both sides The risk of injury raises exponentially.

Don’t Bounce. 

This had been promoted a while back but it’s not exactly, ideal. Ensuring  smooth movement makes all the difference. Bouncing will potentially injure your muscles and contribute to further muscle tightening. 

Bring Movement Into Stretching.

If you’re not into Pilates, tai chi or yoga might be the solution. Gentle movements help you become more flexible in specific movements. Especially if you’re moving into your golden years.

Another option to consider is a dynamic warm up. This involves performing movements specific to your sport or physical activity at low intensity. Gradually speeding and adding more power to your warm up. A foam roller can also be used as a form of dynamic warm up.

Don’t Stop Stretching.   

Stretching regularly is the only way you can maintain and increase your progress. It can be time consuming but it is a sacrifice worth taking. Three to four times a week would be wonderful. Just 10 minutes of stretching a time can make a huge difference. If you stop, the range of motion you worked so hard for can just disappear. And who wants that?

It’s so tempting to skip stretching or just not even consider it at all. But if you’re looking for a better muscle response during exercises, it’s not really an option. Warm muscles are pliant. And that is more than reason enough to hierarchize stretching.

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