Not stretching muscles before or after exercising is something we often do either out of ignorance or because we are simply short on time. However, rushing won’t get you anywhere, and if you want to exercise safely, you need to prepare well beforehand. Just 10 minutes of stretching will get your body ready for exercise, while also preventing injuries. After training or competing, it helps you relax your muscles and boosts your level of performance and overall health. Want to know more?
Why is it important to stretch properly?
Over time muscles, in athletes and sedentary people alike, become stiff. Joints lose flexibility and their natural range of motion. This can lead to discomfort in the back and other areas of the body.
This is why stretching exercises is so important, as it improves blood flow and promotes oxygenation of the muscles. What’s more, they are perfect for combating joint stiffness, stress and relieving headaches or back pain. It has also been shown to be effective inbouncing back from injuries and even improving sleep quality. Stretching exercides daily will help you keep your muscles strong… And, if you spend a lot of time in the same posture, you should take a special interest in knowing how to stretch properly.
But first let’s list the most immediate benefits of stretching exercises :
- Improves athletic performance. Stretching exercises helps keep muscles flexible, which will come in handy when exercising because, as well as preventing injuries, it improves joint mobility.
- Relieves postural pain. Staying in the same posture for hours on end will strengthen certain muscles but, at the same time, others will become weaker. With daily stretching you can make up for this. For example, one of the most common types of pain is back pain, so this area of your body will thank you later if you spend a few minutes giving it a good stretch.
- Improves joint health. Stretching muscles daily helps prevent muscle atrophy while improving tendon flexibility and strength. It also promotes lubrication and joint health, which is lost through inactivity.
How to stretch your legs
- Hamstring stretch. Sitting on the floor, roll up a mat and stretch one leg over it while bending the other. Keep the foot of the flexed leg close to the other leg. Next, align the hips, lean forward and try to grasp the outstretched foot. Hold this position for a few seconds.
- Hip flexor stretch. With your legs hip-width apart, bend one leg and move it forward. Then move the other leg backwards. To make this stretch more effective, try pushing your hips towards the floor. For a more complete exercise, raise the arm opposite the forward leg and move your body to the opposite side. Remember that the shoulders should be relaxed.
- Calf stretch. Face the wall, rest your hands on it, place one leg backwards but completely straight, and keep your heel close to the floor. Hold this for a few seconds.
How to stretch your glutes
If sculpting your glutes is one of your key objectives during your workouts, you may be wondering: How do I stretch my glutes? We’ve got two options for you.
- Sit on the floor to stretch your legs. Lift one of them, flexed, and move it over the one that is still on the ground. With the opposite arm, grab it and rotate your torso and neck. Repeat on the other side.
- If you find this uncomfortable, you can lie on your back on the floor, bend your legs and place one heel on the other leg at thigh level. Lift the leg that is on the ground and hold both legs in the air using your arms. Repeat on the opposite leg.
How to stretch the upper body
To stretch your back properly, fold a mat in front of you on the floor. Next, sit on your heels and stretch your arms towards it, with your head between your arms. Feeling the stretch in your back, hold the position for a few seconds.
You can also do a dorsal stretch. To do this, lie on a folded mat. Put your hands on your head and lean back. You should arch your back while trying to rest your head on the floor.
How to stretch the neck
Next, we propose two types of stretching exercises for the neck:
- Posterior neck stretch. Sit on the floor with your legs crossed. Link your fingers behind the nape of the neck. In the meantime, lower your head, stretching exercises the back of your neck and ensuring that there is some space between your chest and chin.
- Lateral neck stretch. Now, sit cross-legged on your hamstrings and place your hand on your ear on the opposite side. Move your head to the side, as if you wanted to move your ear toward your shoulder. Hold this position until you feel the neck stretch, then repeat on the opposite side.
How to stretch your arms
When it comes to training, the arms are usually one of the most important parts of our body and, at the same time, the most difficult to work. In this post, we explain how to successfully get rid of flabby arms; but below are some key stretches for this area of your body:
- How to stretch the biceps brachii. This stretch is really important, since this muscle works non-stop and is usually shortened. To stretch it, just extend the shoulder while keeping the forearm in pronation. In other words, bringing the palm of the hand upwards. Avoid moving the shoulder forward at all times.
- Triceps Muscle Stretch. This muscle is an extension of the shoulder and elbow. It is exposed to different types of damage, and usually has active trigger points, although it isn’t usually shortened. To stretch it, keep the shoulder blades straight and flex your shoulder while keeping the elbow flexed.
- Finger muscle stretch. Place a rubber band around the fingers and thumb. Then, slowly separate and join the fingers together, without letting the rubber band come loose. Do this stretching exercise about 40 times.
- Wrist flexor muscle stretch. With your arm outstretched and palm facing down, grasp the fingertips with your other hand and pull towards you slowly. Keep the elbow straight. Do this until you feel the wrist stretch, hold for 10 seconds and repeat 5 times with each hand.
- Wrist extensors muscle stretch. It is the opposite stretching exercise to the previous one. Hold out your arm straight with the palm facing the ground, and bend it downward while keeping your elbow straight. Now, your fingertips should be pointing towards the ground and your palm should be facing you. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 5 times on each hand.
Stretching exercises and electrical stimulation
Many athletes focus their efforts on becoming improving endurance as well as becoming faster and stronger. However, they sometimes neglect something that is equally or even more important: flexibility. As muscles become stronger and stiffer, they also tend to shorten and lose elasticity. To avoid injuries associated with muscle shortening, it is necessary to perform muscle stretching exercises.
These can be performed as we have just explained, in the traditional way, but also using electrostimulation. This system not only helps you get stronger and more toned muscles, or bounce back from knee injuries, for example, it also helps you to stretch muscles easily. So, who can use electrical stimulation for stretching exercises? Anyone with problems shortening muscles, after intense training or during warm-up.
Stretching program with electrical stimulation
There are different techniques for stretching exercises with electrical stimulation. One of them consists of applying this therapy on a specific muscle so that the opposite muscle relaxes; so you can stretch muscles widely and easily. Let’s check it out with an example to stretch the hamstring, essential for runners.
First, place the electrodes on the quads in the normal position, just as you would do for training. Your leg should be parallel to the ground. Next, in the Wiemspro app, select the strength and endurance program. Increase the intensity as long as it feels pleasant, but skip the warm-up phase: go straight to the workout phase. The warm-up should be very gentle, until you reach the workout phase.
Once the contraction starts in the quads, stretch the hamstring. What you will notice is that, thanks to the contraction, the stretch is easier to perform. Try to maintain this muscle stretch for the duration of the quads contraction. When this is over, rest, and stretch again when the contraction starts again. Lean your body forward and bring your face to your knee. With each new contraction you will find that you can stretch a little bit more.
You can do 12-15 reps of a stretching cycle like this before resting. When you finish with one leg you can stretch the opposite leg, and then repeat for both legs. If you wish, you can also do stretching exercises sessions with electrical stimulation on other muscles. For example, you can stretch the calves; You just need to place the electrodes in the right place.
Thanks to electrical stimulation, you will notice that every time you stretch your muscles, you can stretch them that little bit more.
Conclusions on stretching muscles
Now that you know how to stretch your muscles in the traditional way and also with professional electrical stimulation equipment such as Wiemspro, we recommend doing more of it. Remember; don’t push your body too hard and you’ll soon start seeing results in terms of flexibility. If you would like to keep up to date with more electrical stimulation exercises, subscribe to this blog.
Frequently asked questions about muscle stretching
What happens to your body when you stretch your muscles?
Stretching muscles is an important activity for maintaining flexibility and range of motion in the body. When you stretch your muscles, a series of changes occur in your body, which may include:
- Increased muscle length: Regular stretching of muscles can help increase their length. This allows for a greater range of motion in the associated joints and can improve flexibility.
- Improved circulation: Stretching can increase blood flow to the muscles you are working. This can help bring more oxygen and nutrients to muscle tissues, which can aid in recovery and injury prevention.
- Muscle Relaxation: Gentle, sustained stretching can help relax muscles and relieve tension. This is especially beneficial after an intense workout or in stressful situations.
- Reduced risk of injury: Keeping muscles and connective tissues flexible can help reduce the risk of muscle and joint injuries. This is important for both athletes and people who lead an active lifestyle.
- Improved posture: Regularly stretching certain muscle groups can help improve posture by counteracting chronic muscle tension that can lead to poor body alignment.
- Reducing stiffness: Stretching can also relieve the feeling of stiffness often experienced after being in a sedentary position for a long time.
It is important to perform the stretches safely, without sudden rebounds that could cause injuries. The stretch should be gentle and sustained, and should be maintained within a comfortable range of motion. Additionally, it is helpful to stretch after a light warm-up or after exercising, as the muscles are warmer and more receptive to stretching at this time.
What is good for stretching muscles?
Stretching your muscles is a beneficial practice for maintaining flexibility and preventing injuries. Here are some guidelines and tips for stretching effectively and safely:
- Warm-up: Before performing static stretches (where you hold a stretching position for a period of time), it is important to warm up your muscles with light physical activity. You can do gentle cardiovascular exercises, such as walking or light jogging for 5-10 minutes to increase blood flow and raise muscle temperature.
- Static stretches: Static stretches involve lengthening a muscle and holding the position for about 15-30 seconds without bouncing or sudden movements. Some examples of static stretches include stretching the hamstrings, quads, calves, and shoulders. These stretches can be done standing, sitting or lying down, depending on the muscle you want to work.
- Breathing: Maintain regular, deep breathing while stretching. Exhale gently as you lean into the stretch position, and keep your breathing steady as you hold the position. Deep breathing can help relax your muscles.
- Don’t force: Never try to stretch beyond your comfort limit. You should feel a tension in the muscle, but it should not be painful. Keep the stretch gentle and controlled.
- Specific stretches: Identify the muscle groups you need to stretch. The choice of stretches should be based on your personal needs and activities. For example, if you are a runner, it is important to stretch your legs and hips. If you work at a computer all day, you can focus on stretches for your neck and shoulders.
- Regular Stretches: Consistency is key. Stretch regularly to maintain and improve flexibility. You can incorporate stretching into your daily routine or after physical activity.
- Variability: Vary the types of stretches you do. In addition to static stretches, you can incorporate dynamic stretches, such as gentle swings or yoga moves, to improve mobility.
- Post-stretch: After stretching, you can do a short walk or light activity to help your muscles gradually recover.
- Consult a Professional: If you have concerns about your stretching technique or if you have previous medical conditions or injuries, it is advisable to consult a physical therapist or personal trainer for specific guidance.
Remember that stretching is not a substitute for warming up before exercise, but rather a complementary practice. Stretching regularly can help maintain good flexibility and prevent muscle injuries.
What happens if I stretch every day?
Stretching every day can have significant benefits for flexibility, range of motion, and injury prevention, but it’s also important to do it properly and in a balanced way to avoid potential problems. Here are some of the things that can happen if you stretch every day:
- Improved flexibility: Doing daily stretches can improve the flexibility of your muscles and joints over time. This can help you perform everyday movements more easily and reduce feelings of stiffness in your body.
- Injury prevention: Improving flexibility through stretching can reduce the risk of muscle and joint injuries, especially if you are an active person or play sports.
- Relief from muscle tension: Daily stretches can help relieve muscle tension and reduce feelings of stress in the body.
- Improved posture: Regular stretching can help correct muscle imbalances and improve body alignment, which in turn can improve posture.
- Improved blood circulation: Stretching can increase blood flow to the muscles, which can contribute to better tissue oxygenation and faster recovery after exercise.
However, it is important to do stretches in an adequate and balanced way:
- Avoid overstretching: Don’t force stretches or try to go beyond your comfort limit. This can lead to injuries.
- Vary your stretches: Work different muscle groups to maintain balance in your body and avoid muscle imbalances.
- Combine with other types of exercise: Stretching is an important part of your exercise routine, but you should also include cardiovascular exercise and muscle strengthening in your exercise program.
- Listen to your body: If you feel pain or discomfort when stretching, stop and consult a health professional or physical therapist.
- Don’t replace warming up: Although stretching regularly is beneficial, it is not a substitute for warming up before exercise. Perform a proper warm-up before any intense physical activity.
In short, stretching every day can be beneficial for your health and well-being, but it should be done in moderation and with proper technique. It is always advisable to consult a health professional or personal trainer if you have any specific questions or concerns about your stretching routine.