Running, biking, and lifting weights are all great forms of fun physical activity that keep your body in shape. Most people focus on stretching after their workout, but it's just as vital to do so before exercise.
Stretching is critical to keeping your muscles, ligaments, and tendons loose to prevent injury. Forgetting to stretch may lead to pain, tightness in the joints, and, potentially, injury.
If you need help determining where to begin with stretching, Dr. Steven J. Svabek and his team can help. Dr. Svabek is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with an extreme interest in sports medicine.
Whether you're dealing with an injury or are trying your hardest to prevent one, Dr. Svabek has the tools and knowledge to help.
The benefits of stretching
Stretching is a great way to improve flexibility in your body and reduce the risk of injury. But stretching isn't only good for athletes; it's a good addition to everybody's daily routine.
When you stretch, you improve your mobility and increase flexibility by lengthening the muscles through movement. There are various forms of stretching which include the following:
- Static stretching
- Dynamic stretching
- Passive stretching
- Isometric stretching
- Active stretching
- Somatic stretching
Each type of stretch works differently to elongate the muscles and keep them loose after a workout or before going for a long run. But why stretch? There are various benefits to your body stretching, such as:
- Improves your ability to do normal activities
- Increases your performance
- Allows the joints to move properly
- Allows the muscles to work properly
- Increases blood flow to the muscles
Stretching also allows the joints to use their entire range of motion, which helps prevent injuries to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
Should you stretch before a workout?
The answer to stretching before a workout is more complex than you think. While we recommend stretching after exercise, doing so beforehand may cause more harm than good.
Before you work out, your muscles are "cold," meaning they haven't had the chance to become loose with more blood flow. Static muscle stretching before a workout increases the risk of injury and decreases muscle performance.
Try warming up instead of standing for 10 minutes doing static stretches before a workout. It sounds like a warm-up; you're warming your body, muscles, and joints up for impending exercise.
Jogging or cycling at slow speeds are great ways to warm up your body and prepare for the main event — your workout.
After a warm-up, you should include dynamic stretching exercises to keep your body ready and prevent injury. Dynamic stretching is a way to move large muscles through their entire range of motion, which gets your body ready for movement.
Leg swings, torso twists, and walking lunges are all great dynamic exercises that extend the muscles you focus on to prevent injury during a workout.
Tips for proper stretching techniques
You should do stretching before and after a workout, but also regularly, even when you're not an athlete. However, if you need to learn the right techniques, it can lead to disaster and injury.
Understanding the right and wrong ways to stretch to prevent injuring your muscles and joints is a good idea. Dr. Svabek provides the following tips for stretching properly:
- Focus on large muscles
- Don't stretch through pain
- Keep stretches symmetrical
- Hold the stretches
- Avoid bouncing while stretching
- Incorporate exercise-specific stretches
Another essential tip for stretching is to keep up with it, even when you're not planning on exercising. Regular stretching improves blood flow and prevents pain between workouts.
To learn more about sports medicine and how to prevent injuries, call us today at 954-466-9140 to schedule a consultation or request an online appointment.