The Benefits of Stretching
By Charles Hopkins
Published 10/23/2007 | Fitness
The benefits of stretching are often overlooked. Many people work out
heavily; they leave the gym without giving their bodies a chance to
cool down and relax before turning to regular activity levels. There
are differing opinions suggesting how and when to stretch. No matter
how one slices it, its clear that stretching adds a new dimension to
personal health and fitness.
Many people use stretching as a warm-up exercise. This is
especially true for sprinters and long distance runners. Loads of
martial arts schools use stretching and other routines used to increase
flexibility before the main workout. Others use stretching as a way to
wake up in the morning. The idea is simple:stretching causes the
muscles to loosen up before vigorous activity.
While some stretch before working out,other people stretch as a
cooling exercise. Some gyms that offer total fitness programs recommend
at least five minutes of stretching after a workout so that muscles
retain the benefits of strength training. Its also a way to prepare
individuals for a return to their regular activities. The theory is
that stretching is best done after a workout because the workout has
warmed the muscles, thus making them easier and less painful to
Stretching is also an art form. In the practice of Yoga,
individuals use special postures that offer full stretches to all parts
of the body The postures are held for about a minute at the very least.
It is said that these stretches offer a form of meditation, move the
blood to all the right places, and act as a sort of a massage for the
organs in order to squeeze toxins from them. Yogis then drink water to
flush these toxins. If flexibility is to be the name of the game, then
a Yoga studio is the place to be.
The Keys and benefits to stretching are numerous. Stretching
maintains flexibility as muscle mass increases. Its best to be sure,
especially if one decides to stretch after a workout, that all major
muscle groups have been stretched. Its best to hold each stretch for
no less than fifteen seconds each. Furthermore, its important to
breathe into the stretch. Breathing allows for the release of air so
that one can reach further into the stretch for maximum benefit.
Its important not to overlook the benefits of stretching. A
flexible and relaxed body is a healthy body that copes well with the
stresses of daily life.