Stretching is meant to reduce the risk of injury, but if you do it improperly, you’ll still face the same danger. Tight muscles, if not stretched right, can become a strained part of your body that’s painful and hard to move. Knowing the do’s and don’ts of stretching will save you from the trouble of taking physical therapy just to repair your damaged muscles. Aside from some tips, I’ll also give an equipment suggestion for your routines.
Here are some precautions you can take before your next stretch. You can tweak some to fit on your practice:
1. Poor posture means it’s time to stretch
Poor posture is a sign that there’s something wrong in your muscles. Shortening muscles can add up to your poor posture and could be harder to fix in the future. This would mean very little range of motion on your body. Once you do a typically normal stretch, you’ll feel intense pain. Some habits like wearing high heels can shorten the calf muscles due to continuous, full contraction. Typing would also keep you slouching and your fingers would be very stiff.
2. Stretch tight muscles first
Tight muscles stop you from doing full stretches and in maximizing your full range of motion. With that, you should look for spots in your body with tight muscles and target to stretch it first. This will loosen up and allow you to move easier. You can scan for tight muscles by doing general body movements. As soon as you spot it, practice some routines that will soften it up. After following the do’s and don’ts of stretching, you can now proceed to deeper stretches.
3. Be gentle if you’re stretching for injury rehabilitation
Recovering from an injury, say back issues, means that you have limited range of movements. This is so you won’t hurt your body even more. If you’re planning to stretch, do it gently and avoid practicing deep flexes. Start with the basics and don’t forget to ask your physical therapist about it. Avoid pushing yourself from full ranges like the famous mad cat routine. Some individuals can do this stretch but in minimal repetitions only.
4. Avoid holding intense stretches for long
An intense stretch is as taxing as it’s helpful in your muscles. A full deep stretch, like a squat, should be held in a maximum of 15 seconds only. Holding a stretch longer than 30 seconds for less intense routines can cause muscle hypoxia. This means that the oxygen level on your muscle drops and the growth of connective tissues increases. If this happens, you’ll have less flexibility. If you want to stretch a certain part of your body, do it in different angles or in between rests.
5. Don’t stretch right away in the morning
The common notion when a person comes out of bed is to start stretching right away. During sleep, your spine is full of fluids and flexing right after you open your eyes will pose a high risk of injuries. This is true especially if you have back injuries. It’s advisable to wait for at least an hour after waking up before you proceed to your stretching routines. Anyway, it’s not advisable that you stretch after breakfast. This may cause digestive problems on your part even if you follow this do’s and don’ts of stretching.
6. Breathe properly
Holding your breath while in a deep stretch isn’t a wise thing to do. This habit will tense your muscles and decrease the oxygen level in your muscles even more. Hyperventilation isn’t a good thing either since this will overexcite your system and tire you easily. You can do rapid breaths before the stretching but not during the routine. Start practicing the art of inhaling and exhaling. You can actually use long exhales and short inhales to relax while on a stretch.
7. Don’t forget to warm up
Yes, warm up is also necessary before you do an intense stretching routine. Engaging your muscles on deep squats, static stretches, and more taxing routines won’t be healthy. Just practice general movements to relax your muscles, ligaments, and tendons. You can walk, jog, or run for at least five or ten minutes before stretching. Cold muscles, when stretched, will cause injuries. If you can’t go outside, you can simply jog in place or use the stairs.
8. If it’s painful, it’s harmful
The number one rule in stretching is to not go far if it’s painful. Even if you’re not yet on your full range of motion, you should stop if you’re starting to feel muscle pain. Holding onto the stretch even if it’s less than 15 seconds can leave you with tendonitis or cramps. Still, it’s normal to feel a slight pain or a pulling sensation if you’re flexing. Just do’s and don’ts of stretching when your stretch starts to be dangerously deeper.
9. Don’t overstretch
Overstretching is a risk among first-timer flexers who don’t know the ability of their bodies yet. Even if you don’t feel pain on holding your stretch for long, always follow the 15-second rule. No matter how strong your muscles are, those are still prone to injuries. At least 30 minutes of stretching for three days a week is already healthy according to the American Council on Exercise. If you can’t manage to do this, five minutes a day would be okay.
10. Use a device properly
It’s not enough that you invest in a piece of equipment. You should also know how to use it to your body’s benefit. There are full body types but it may not work for you if you’re just targeting to stretch your flimsy legs. You should know which part of your body you want to flex. There are models nowadays specific for legs, arms, shoulders, or upper body stretching that comes with routine manuals. Always look for quality and price for a wise buy.
Do’s And Don’ts Of Stretching: Use This Stretching Equipment!
Stretching equipment could make your routines easier and more effective. This is why many fitness buffs patronize products even if they can stretch and exercise without it. So why would you bother to spend hundreds of dollars just to stretch? It’s because stretching machines are created with the right ergonomics to correct your posture, control your muscles, and avoid injuries.
If you’re considering buying one for home or commercial use, you should look for the LIFESPAN SP1000 STRETCHING PARTNER MACHINE. This is a full body stretching machine that’s compact enough to fit almost every home. So what can you expect once you have this? Let’s take a look at the package:
A total package stretcher
From head to toe, you’re going to enjoy doing stretching routines on the LifeSpan SP1000. It has a solid frame that can carry up to a hefty 300 pounds of user weight. This machine also has an exclusive flex-smart pivot system for fuller stretches. Almost all parts you’ll have contact with are padded and there are wrist straps so you won’t slip even if you’re doing deep squats.
Included flip guidebook and video instructions
You shouldn’t worry about the routines you can do here as the LifeSpan SP1000 comes with a free flip book and 30 minutes of flexibility for life videos. These materials will teach you stretching techniques as well as the right way to use the machine.
The do’s and don’ts of stretching I listed here would help you out since most of these are usually overlooked by flexers. Don’t commit the same mistake and let the LifeSpan SP1000 be your go-to equipment. It could be a bit expensive, but it’s worthy once you feel the change in your body. What do you think of these points? Let us know!